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“If you think college is expensive, try ignorance.” – Derek Bok, former president of Harvard University
This quote by Mr. Bok came to mind the other day after the Kinsey Global Institute released a report on the value of a college education in an increasingly technological world. Of course, Mr. Bok wasn’t just referring to ignorance as a lack of education leading to a lack of money, but rather as Socrates would say, living the “unexamined life.”
But in this day and age of sky-high tuition, massive student loans, a struggling job market and a wage gap related to the knowledge gap, money seems more important.
The Monetary Value of a College Education
According to the Kinsey study, 90-95 million low-skilled workers will be unemployed or unemployable by 2020, while the world will be short 38-40 million workers with college degrees. The world is changing quickly, and it has never been more important for workplace skills to keep pace with technology.
Consider these college vs. high-school graduate statistics…
1. College graduates make on average $600,000 more in a lifetime than non-college grads. $1 million more in science-related fields.
2. People with bachelor’s degrees have an overall unemployment rate one-third that of high-school graduates and half that of people holding an associate degree.
3. In general, they stay unemployed for a shorter period of time.
Now these numbers vary by degree, occupation and region of the country. A person with a B.A. in sociology or philosophy might actually make less than someone with steady work in welding or auto repair but they’ll likely make more than someone working in retail.
The Importance of College Prep
Unfortunately, we hear plenty of stories about people with college degrees working in jobs where their skills are not fully utilized. They’re “underemployed.” This can be caused by many things, including the degree they received, the school they attended, the career they chose, the state of the job market, and most likely, poor college and career planning.
Preparing for college doesn’t just mean getting in; it means having a full career plan on which to focus your efforts. For instance, you need to know:
· Does your career choice require a graduate degree?
· Will there be jobs available in your chosen field? What are the career projections?
· Is it a growing industry?
· Can you get internships or other practical experience in your field?
College prep needs to include detailed career research and planning. Otherwise you’re just getting a degree without any practical plans to use it. You wouldn’t expect someone going to school to study welding or auto mechanics to become a nurse. After all, those are career-oriented training programs. College is, too.
Develop a career plan using RSC’s extensive research tools and personality tests, and then put your plan into practice. It’s the best way to make sure your college costs make sense in dollars and cents.
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