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Are Higher Education Degrees Worth It?

Many college graduates have tough times finding jobs in this economy.

Of late, I’ve been weighing the pros and cons of a variety of grad school degrees; I went so far as to complete all of the requirements to gain acceptance into one grad school before realizing that I might not want to be saddled with $30,000 in debt for a degree that wouldn’t land me a job anyway. 


The Internet is full of both offers for cyber-schools promising immediate acceptance for degrees in everything from rocket-science to basket-weaving. Fortunately, the Internet is also full of warnings about obtaining higher-education degrees that won’t get the graduates any farther ahead than they already were. 

According to reports listed in an article by the Washington Post, recent graduates are faring far worse in the current economic crisis; as many as half of them don’t have jobs. Those of them who do have jobs earn on average $27,000 a year which is so low that the students might not be able to pay back their student loans. 


As I’m doing my own job search and attempting to shift careers, I’ve been getting employment advice--termed as information interviews by What Color is Your Parachute--and out of the ten to fifteen people I’ve asked about how to build up my resume, not a single person has suggested that I take a MA in any field utilizing soft skills. 


Many people have suggested technical degrees, which more often guarantee employment and more than a few have suggested that I stop being so lazy, study math again, take the GMAT, and get an MBA from a reputable school so that I’ll have some more marketable skills. 


The latest information interview I had was with a woman who has a background in the tech industry, in non-profit management, in politics, and now as a Vice President of a communications company. Her advice was to get my foot in the door any way I could and learn on the job, either as an employee or as a volunteer. While I won’t get student loans if I pursue this path, I’m alot less likely to incur the kind of debt that I would if I pursued a graduate degree. 


The Washington Post article I read had a different take on education; the writer proposed that every university should be required to provide a sort of cost-benefit analysis which would include how the amount of money spent versus the family’s wealth benefited the actual student. (The specifics are HERE.) The idea behind the proposal is that students would know in advance how valuable their degrees would be.