College Degrees More Expensive, Worth Less in Job Market

Discussion in 'Wall St. News' started by hoffmanw, Dec 9, 2009.

  1. College Degrees More Expensive, Worth Less in Job Market

    By KRISTI OLOFFSON Kristi Oloffson Wed Dec 9, 4:20 am ET

    Employers and career experts see a growing problem in American society - an abundance of college graduates, many burdened with tuition-loan debt, heading into the work world with a degree that doesn't mean much anymore.

    The problem isn't just a soft job market - it's an oversupply of graduates. In 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%. For many Americans today, a trip through college is considered as much of a birthright as a driver's license. (See pictures of the college dorm's evolution.)

    Marty Nemko, a career and education expert who has taught at U.C. Berkeley's Graduate School of Education, contends that the overflow in degree holders is the result of many weaker students attending colleges when other options may have served them better. "There is tremendous pressure to push kids through," he says, adding that as a result, too many students who aren't skilled become degree holders, promoting a perception among employers that higher education doesn't work. "That piece of paper no longer means very much, and employers know that," says Nemko. "Everybody's got it, so it's watered down."

    What's not watered down is the tab. The cost of average tuition rose 6.5% this fall, and a report released on Dec. 1 by the Project on Student Debt showed that the IOU is getting bigger. Two-thirds of all students now leave college with outstanding loans; the average amount of debt rose to $23,200 in 2008. In the last academic year, the total amount loaned to students increased about 18% from the previous year, to $81 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

    Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for recent grads rose as well. It is now 10.6%, a record high.

    The devaluation of a college degree is no secret on campus. An annual survey by the Higher Education Research Institute has long asked freshmen what they think their highest academic degree will be. In 1972, 38% of respondents said a bachelor's degree, but in 2008 only 22% answered the same. The number of freshmen planning to get a master's degree rose from 31% in 1972 to 42% in 2008. Says John Pryor, the institute's director: "Years ago, the bachelor's degree was the key to getting better jobs. Now you really need more than that." (See TIME's special report on paying for college.)

    Employers stress that a basic degree remains essential, carefully tiptoeing around the idea that its value has plummeted. But they admit that the degree alone is not the ace it once was; now they emphasize work experience as a way to make yourself stand out. Dan Black, director of campus recruiting in the Americas for Ernst & Young, and his team will hire more than 4,000 people this year out of 20,000 applicants. There are a lot of things besides a degree "that will help differentiate how much attention you get," says the veteran hirer, who has been screening graduates for 15 years.

    Enterprise Rent-A-Car hiring guru Marie Artim, who says her company will hire 8,000 of 20,000 applicants, has found that her applicant pool is changing. "While 10 years ago we may have had the same numbers, today we have higher-quality and better-qualified applicants," she says.

    So what does it take to impress recruiters today? Daniel Pink, an author on motivation in the workplace, agrees that the bachelor's degree "is necessary, but it's just not sufficient," at times doing little more than verifying "that you can more or less show up on time and stick with it." The author of A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future says companies want more. They're looking for people who can do jobs that can't be outsourced, he says, and graduates who "don't require a lot of hand-holding." (Read "The Incredible Climbing Cost of College.")

    Left-brain abilities that used to guarantee jobs have become easy to automate, while right-brain abilities are harder to find - "design, seeing the big picture, connecting the dots," Pink says. He cites cognitive skills and self-direction as the types of things companies look for in job candidates. "People have to be able to do stuff that's hard to outsource," he says. "It used to be for blue collar; it's now for white collar too."

    For now, graduates can steer their careers where job growth is strong - education, health care and nonprofit programs like Teach for America, says Trudy Steinfeld, a career counselor at New York University. "Every college degree is not cookie cutter. It's what you have done during that degree to distinguish yourself."
  2. 1) Worth less or worthless?
    2) ?.......Fields that can be "manipulated" by government spending and policy. :cool:
  3. Worse than that... it's a HUGE oversupply of labor at ALL education/skill levels, world wide.

    And without a RADICAL change in how America treats capital and entrepreneurship, NONE OF THE OBAMA LIES WILL DO ANY GOOD... :mad:
  4. Lethn


    It isn't the oversupply of graduates that's the problem what a load of bollocks. The industry is simply rejecting all these bullshit courses that teach absolutely nothing, that goes for the prefectly legitimate sounding ones too.

    This is why I'm seeing thousands of jobs listing must have 1+ years experience, even though there's no fucking way a graduate could have that after just leaving college because the education system is useless.
  5. This is also partly due to lower rung schools who's degrees are worthless such as University of Phoenix online.
  6. Kids take the SATs to show their abilities to get into college... they should take something like the GRE after they graduate... so see if they learned anything and are able to think, or whether they just partied their way through.
  7. You really have no idea what you're talking about. Ever hear of the H1-B visa program? Oversupply has been an identified problem for a while now. Yes, there are some useless degrees out there, but students obtaining useful degrees cannot find employment either.
    There are ways of getting experience while you are still in school btw.
  8. Lethn


    My view may be rather skewed given that nearly all the courses I've been on or the education I have recieved has revolved around being taught the 'theory' of the subject they claim to be teaching you the skills of.

    Though please explain to me why I hear rumblings from industries about degree graduates not having the skills they need? Of course I give you that my view is on the art and creative media industries at the moment.

    Also I don't see why people should be forced to go to school and through the education system when the education system doesn't even bother to provide the experience a student needs to get their job of choice in the first place. Independent learning is just a pathetic excuse to save their hides from the fact that a lot of these courses tend to teach bugger all except how to write on a piece of paper.
  9. aegis


    I'm currently pursuing an MS in Accounting and Tax at the University of Central Florida and they require a test like that for their undergrads. It's called CLAST (College Level Academic Skills Test).
  10. aegis


    A university education has always been about teaching people theory rather than hands on skills. If companies don't like it, they need to stop recruiting from universities and recruit from community colleges and vocational schools instead.

    For example, most engineering jobs require a bachelors degree when a simple associates in engineering technology would likely better prepare people for 75% of engineering jobs. Take a look at some of the job listings on Careerbuilder and Monster. Every job requires a BS or BA. And they wonder why a degree is worth less.
    #10     Dec 9, 2009