The personal and practical benefit of attaining a college degree has been widely acknowledged for decades. In its 2011 analysis, the Pew Research Center found that college grads enjoyed average lifetime earnings of $650,000 more than their peers who finished their education at the high school level. Adults with bachelor’s degrees get better paying jobs to begin with and are also better able to weather economic downturns. A college degree boosts your ability to find a job and keep it.
While employers are willing to train employees for specific jobs, they look for assurances that candidates are indeed trainable. College graduates have not only demonstrated a certain level of perseverance by attaining their degree, they have also mastered the content of their major. Additionally, many students participate in internships which further supplement their hands-on experience. Brigham Young University advises its students that internships are invaluable components to their college education, noting that while an average of 30 percent of grads get job offers, that number increases to nearly 60 percent when graduating seniors have had an internship experience. Other college experiences align well with workplace requirements. Ernst and Young director of campus recruiting Dan Black says he looks for the sorts of leadership skills college graduates might have gained by being leaders in fraternities and campus organizations.
The diploma alone is not what equals success in a job search. Rather, it’s what that diploma represents: knowledge and connections. College students learn the foundation of the careers they hope to pursue. Whether the bachelor’s degree is in business or nursing, a college graduate has demonstrated an ability to think, learn and accomplish a long-term goal. Graduating college speaks to success. And the networking students do during their college years can prove invaluable for career prospects. The peers with whom they studied and collaborated on projects may already be the peers who are making hiring decisions in the workforce.
It’s referred to as the “push-down effect” by some, and in the case of job searches, it’s bad news for prospects who do not hold degrees. In an adverse economy, people on the bottom of the economic rung are pushed down even further in a recession when job candidates who might be considered overqualified settle for lesser employment. College graduates might not always find the perfect job, but at least they have more choices than their non-college-educated peers.
The Catch-22 of trying to find a job is that you’re more desirable if you already have one. That’s good news for college graduates. The recession of 2007 had reverberating effects on employment and the economic recovery that followed. College graduates in general fared better that those who held only high school diplomas. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the 2010 unemployment rate for college grads was 10.4 percent vs. 32.7 percent for high school graduates. You’re more likely to be employed if you’re a college graduate, and you’re also more likely to find a new employment.
- PEW Social Trends: Lifetime Earnings of College Graduates
- Pew Report Finds Recent College PEW States: Graduates Well-Protected Against Worst Effects of Recession
- Fin Aid Fast Web: College Power Bulletin
- The Boston Globe: College degree is costly, but it pays off over time
- Public Agenda: One Degree of Separation
- The New York Times: Teenagers Facing Hard Competition for Summer Jobs
- Economic Policy Institute: Class of 2012 Labor Market for Young Graduates Remains Grim
- Forbes: The Companies Hiring The Most New College Grads
- Brigham Young University: Benefits of Internships
Linda Emma is a long-standing writer and editor. She is also a digital marketing professional and published author with more than 20 years experience in media and business. She works as a content manager and professional writing tutor at a private New England college. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Northeastern University.