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College Degrees Required, Not Preferred

african proverb
The New York Times article that ran two days ago (February 19, 2013) indicates that the “college degree is becoming the new high school diploma: the minimum requirement, albeit an expensive one, for getting the lowest-level job”  (http://

As a college instructor, I am not surprised by the depressing title of this article “It Takes a B.A. to Find a Job as a File Clerk.”  My students have known this for a long, long time. It’s why they continue to persevere, while frequently working 40-hour weeks in dead-end jobs, to obtain their much-needed diplomas.

The NYT article outlines some good and not-so-good reasons that explain why employers are setting higher standards for the minimum requirement of education for even entry-level positions.

  •  They may assume that applicants without degrees are ill-equipped for the working world. They wonder, do non-degreed applicants have learning issues or unclear career goals?
  •  They may be taking advantage of the glut of unemployed college graduates out there. An easy way to limit the number of “qualified” applicants is to eliminate those without a college degree.
  • They may have increased the technical aspects of all jobs corporate-wide and earnestly need applicants with skills that are most obviously marked by a bachelor’s degree.

The upshot of this news is that if you, or your child, do(es) not have a college degree, the likelihood of unemployment is twice as high. Unemployment is 8.1% for high school graduates, as compared to 3.7% for college graduates.  College degrees matter, today more than ever.

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