Over the last decade, many job seekers have begun to question whether their decision to attend college was even a good investment. College today requires more time and money than ever before and the disparity between time and money and the return on investment (ROI) is becoming disparagingly difficult to achieve – especially when you’re simultaneously seeking work and paying back tens of thousands of dollars in student loans.
Of course there are different ways to evaluate the worth of a college degree, some degrees are considered more “valuable” based on how much money you can make out of college, other college degrees are “worth more” because they were achieved at a big-name university, but above all, the true value of having a college degree versus not having a college degree is clear as day.
According to the US Census Bureau, over a third of all Americans are graduating with Bachelor’s degrees, that’s an 18% increase from ten years ago. Because of this saturation of B.A.’s and B.S.’s in the job market, we are now seeing a college degree as the basic minimum education credential required to land an entry-level job. Sound like a load of B.S.? See our recent article about the real reason college graduates aren’t landing entry-level jobs.
So, you may be thinking to yourself, if everyone else has a college degree, how the heck do I stand out? Well, let’s back it up a bit – although a college degree isn’t viewed with the same prestige it once was, not having a degree is still a major red flag for recruiters and hiring managers. At a minimum, a college degree acts as the first filter to screen job applicants. Second, many entry-level positions require basic technical skills that are generally assumed with a college degree. And thus, college grads are often considered more technically capable than non-college grads.
Ignoring outliers (looking at you Zuckerberg), the average college graduate earns $1 million more in their lifetime than those without college degrees. That may seem like a staggering figure on its own, but when you delve deeper into the same Pew Research study, you find that people with only a high school diploma actually earn just 62 cents for every dollar that a college grad earns. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports that unemployment rates for people without a college degree are double the rates of those with a college degree.
Furthermore, in a job market with an oversaturation of applicants, employers get a lot more bargaining power than you do. To the typical hiring manager, you’re just a number in the ATS, and if your salary expectations are too high, there are a dozen others who would be willing to earn do the job for less.
In an ideal world, you wouldn’t just be a number in the applicant tracking system, you’d be you and hiring managers would look at you and talk to you to see if you’re the right fit. But unfortunately, time and resources are sparse in the world of hiring, and applicants are abundant, eager and overzealous. So in a job market where there is too much competition and more people have college degrees than ever before, it is clear as day that a college degree is totally worth it.
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