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Is College Worth It?

Is a degree still worth the money and time it takes to get there? Do employers value college as much as they once did? Read on to find out if college is a smart investment for you.

The New Minimum Requirement for Employment

Burning Glass Technologies, a Boston-based labor analytics firm, found that employers are now starting to use the bachelor's degree credential as a rule of thumb for recruiting better workers.

The firm’s report ("Moving the Goalposts: How Demand for a Bachelor’s Degree is Reshaping the Workforce") said, “This credential inflation, or ‘upcredentialing,’ is affecting a wide range of jobs from executive assistants to construction supervisors.”

Economists refer to this trend as "degree inflation," and it is becoming more common in America's job market.

It's not difficult to see why this is happening.  It can be easy for employers to reach the conclusion that degree holders are more efficient employees, since college may provide students with a greater ability to think analytically, and the discipline to see multiple tasks through from start to finish. These can be very positive qualities in employees.

Increase Your Job Options

With a degree you can look great to employers with your increased knowledge and broader set of specialized skills, meaning that as a degree holder you may have more job prospects, and a larger range of job options.

The connections you make and personal network you create during your time in college are also invaluable assets to future career opportunities.

College is a great place to build connections; professors, advisors, and other students can all be useful resources in your future. After all, the more connections you make, the more likely you are to hear about the perfect professional opportunity for you.

Protect Yourself In Tough Economic Times

Economies rise and fall, but regardless of the state of the economy, both national and international businesses need smart, educated, creative people who are willing to work hard. Having your degree can get you noticed, and will not only t separate you from the pack in good times but might actually be a buffer for keeping your job when tough business decisions need to be made. 

In addition to job security, choosing an area of study that offers practical skills that will continually be in demand, like accounting or communications, can make you a vital cog in any organization even with the market tightens. Information Technology is another great example. Another BLS report states, "employment in the computer systems design and related services industry (commonly known as IT services) was not significantly affected by the recession of 2007-2009.” 

IT isn't for everyone though so still stick with a degree that interests you; just be mindful about the value you have to an organization that is a direct result of earning your degree.  

Long-Term Earning Potential Shouldn’t Be Ignored

It is true that an education can be costly, which makes it all the more important to select a degree that is valuable to your future and a university that has your best interests at heart. Most importantly, make sure you are going into a program that you will be able to finish as all too many students have debt from trying to earn a degree without the diploma to show for it. 

The value of college however is in what you get in return. According to research done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, someone with a college degree is more likely to have a higher salary than someone without one, and is also more likely to have promotion opportunities throughout their lifetime.

You shouldn't expect to see a full return on your college investment within the first few months of receiving your diploma; it doesn't work like that most of the time. However, if you are earning a little more money each paycheck because you have your degree, you may find yourself coming out ahead sooner than you think.

Overall Fulfillment

Since we spend so much time working, job satisfaction may improve the satisfaction we feel in our personal lives as well.

With a degree you can have the freedom to find a job in an industry that combines your personal interests with your professional skills, and have the security of being able to provide for yourself and your family. For almost all of us, it's necessary to have a job. What a degree can do is help us to find the job that fulfills us personally.

There are a lot of variables in determining if college is right for you. Just remember that you're doing it for the skills, confidence, and professional opportunities that you will gain, and not the piece of paper at the end. 


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