Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Are College Degrees Becoming Meaningless?

TIME: College Degrees More Expensive, Worth Less in Job Market

My Fellow Americans,

How many of you have a college degree? 

According to an article by Kristi Oloffson of TIME Magazine, it's probably close to 7 out of 10 of you: "[i]n 1973, a bachelor's degree was more of a rarity, since just 47% of high school graduates went on to college. By October 2008, that number had risen to nearly 70%."


The problem with your "run-of-the-mill" undergraduate degree nowadays is -- everybody's got one.  In today's job market (what's left of it at least), potential employers EXPECT applicants to have a college degree.  As stated above, less than half of high school graduates went on to get a degree in higher education.  Today, it's almost three-quarters of all high school grads. 

A problem we have run into is that schools often attempt to push kids through -- at all levels of our school system. In the article, Oloffson mentions Marty Nemko, a career and education expert who has taught at U.C. Berkeley's Graduate School of Education. According to Oloffson, Nemko "contends that the overflow in degree holders is the result of many weaker students attending colleges when other options may have served them better."

Nemko says: "There is tremendous pressure to push kids through...That piece of paper no longer means very much, and employers know that. Everybody's got it, so it's watered down."

The circumstances surrounding the surge of college grads is similar to the current demise of the dollar.  As the Fed prints more money, the value of a dollar is diluted.  Basically, there are too many dollars chasing too few goods.

Going back to our college grads and the job market, we can say that there are too many grads chasing too few jobs.  Couple that with a bad economy where many companies are not hiring or have flat out failed, and we can see how it's getting tough for young 20-something's out there. 

It's especially tough if your parents aren't rich and you didn't get a full scholarship.  As Oloffson notes: "Two-thirds of all students now leave college with outstanding loans; the average amount of debt rose to $23,200 in 2008."

Those in student loan debt won't be happy to hear that employers don't see the undergrad degree as "...the ace it once was; [now emphasizing] work experience as a way to make yourself stand out."

In my opinion, some students may be better off exploring other opportunities after high school or college that allow them to get business skills.  This could be a chance to start your own business -- either from an idea you have or buying a low-cost franchise (if you're more of an artist or writer type, that's fine -- get the skills to start a business around those professions).  After all, I firmly believe it will be the small businesses that get us out of this recession.  What better way to put your degree to use?

Take The Refounding Father's advice: start a business and work a side job to pay the bills.  Use savings down the road to invest in real estate so you protect yourself from a weak dollar.  Use your head.  There is still hope for you college grads out there.  This recession will end.  Now is the time to lay the groundwork for your future success.

God Bless You.

(Photo: TIME)

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