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Employers demand a college degree

Erik Dorn, Opinion Writer
February 13, 2013
Filed under Opinion, Top Stories

College graduation is only months away, and with that comes a lot of uncertainty for those graduating. Is a degree a key to unlimited potential or is it worth less than the paper it’s printed on?

According to a study released by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, 37 percent of employed graduates didn’t need to attend college at all to successfully perform in their current jobs.

Even though that percentage seems quite high, not having a degree can adversely affect the ability to be employed.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for those with at least a bachelor’s degree is consistently about half the unemployment rate for high school graduates.

In 2012, the percentage of individuals unemployed that held at least a bachelor’s degree was 4 percent while those without was slightly higher than 7 percent. Also, only 4 percent of individuals with a bachelor’s degree qualify as being in poverty. The degree itself doesn’t guarantee a job, but it does set one apart from those without a degree.

The problem is an oversaturation of individuals with a degree combined with a lackluster economy. It isn’t enough to just have any degree. A future employer wants proof of hard work an discipline. Having a piece of paper showing evidence of four years and thousands of dollars spent in education isn’t going to cut it.

Say you want a job as a writer. A newspaper, magazine or website isn’t going to care as much about a degree or where it came from if the writing itself isn’t great. A lot of companies either don’t have the budget or don’t have the patience for on-the-job training. Future employers want new hires who can hit the ground running, so to speak.

Google requires programmers to write code in the interview process. My brother is a physics teacher in the Denver area, and before he got hired, he had to teach lessons before a classroom of students to prove his worth.

Good work is a top priority. Nothing else really matters. Even though my brother graduated at the top of his class, if he hadn’t shown his worth to the school, he wouldn’t have gotten the job, regardless of his degree.

A study conducted in June of 2010 by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce estimates the economy will create nearly 47 million jobs through 2018 of which 33 million will require a bachelor’s degree. The top five states that will need workers with a bachelor’s degree or better are Washington, Minnesota, Colorado, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.

Going to college has always been a given in my household. I was always told a degree I don’t use is still better than no degree at all. Even if I don’t get into the field I want, having a job that pays the bills is a lot more than a chunk of this country can say at the moment. Having the privilege to be able to finish my degree after taking off nearly three years is one I won’t squander.  It isn’t just something I tell myself to help sleep at night, knowing that I have student loans to pay back and an uncertain future to look forward to. A college degree will be an investment in the future one can’t regret.

However, the degree shouldn’t be the only qualifying reason for employment. One needs to be marketable and give a company a reason to hire. In the instance of a writer, the writing should stand out and be formulated better than anyone else who’s applying for the desired job. A degree can be framed and admired, but then sleeves should be rolled up because it’s time to work.