The Value of a College Degree: Is the Tassle Worth the Hassle?

There are times, especially during those energy-depleting study marathons, when you might question why you're putting yourself through it all. Here's the good news: A piece of paper on the wall (college degree) equals more paper in your pocket ($$$) throughout your career. Yes, even during a down-turn in the economy; yes, even though you've not yet finished your degree; yes, even though you've accumulated debt. Let's take a look at the numbers.

A recent PEW study indicated that when the economy is in a down-turn,

  • declines in employment and wages are more severe for those with only high school or associate degrees.
  • Out-of-work college graduates find jobs more successfully and are not "settling" for lower wage jobs--unlike their less-educated counterparts.

So let's say you've not yet finished your degree. Is there an uptrend in the hiring of college graduates or a downtrend? According to The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, the demand for college grads will outstrip their availability by some 3 million jobs by 2020. In other words, there is a definite uptrend in the need for workers with a post-secondary degree. Further, many employers are using a college degree as a screen to minimize their resume pile when they post jobs, even though the job may not be of a level that necessitates a college degree.  Indicators are that employers believe in the whole college experience, both the learning of job-specific skills, but also of soft-skills and maturity. Want more? The Huffington Post reports that,

"...Georgetown University is out with a new report that underscores how important a diploma has been in this recovery. Of the 2.9 million "good jobs" created during the recovery from 2010 to 2014, 2.8 million — or 97 percent — have gone to workers with at least a bachelor's degree, according to Georgetown's Center on Education and the Workforce."

And finally, even though you may have accumulated some student loan debt, the difference in what you vs. someone without a college degree will earn is significant. How significant? After factoring in lost wages due to actually being in school, and the cost of your education itself, 2010 Census Bureau data says the difference is a whopping $550,000 dollars. And even though that is stretched out over a 40-year career, it makes a big difference in lifestyle. So stay in school kids (and adults) - it's worth it!