So if 30% of college graduates under age 25 (not including the unemployed) are working in a field that doesn’t require a degree, what does that do to the rest of the labor market? It requires a degree by default. In other words, part of the reason why the unemployment rate is higher for those without a degree is not because of training or learned skills in college. It’s because there are so many people flooding the job market with degrees not in demand that an employer might as well choose them over someone without. But that’s not good for anyone. A perfectly qualified person can’t get the job that would sustain their living and the college grad is saddled with debt (over $25,000 as of 2010 for the national average). It gets worse. Now, someone with a bachelor’s degree needs an even more expensive point of differentiation to earn a job. Take marketing for instance. A quick scroll on monster.com or CareerBuilder will show most available marketing positions requiring an MBA. The positions pay an average of around $40,000, yet the average MBA program is over $60,000. Graduate school costs can range well into the six figures, and this doesn’t take into account room, board, fees, and lost income. The person that is overwhelmed with undergraduate debt has to incur even more debt to get his or her master’s degree because a bachelor’s is unremarkable—and they still won’t be able to earn the income that justifies such expense. The point of differentiation continues to rise in cost, so the pundits continue to make unsubstantiated claims like this one: people with college degrees make 83% more than those with just a high school diploma, so more people should go to college. Lamb Chop could sing a song about it.
Next: Why people go to college. What was your chief reason for going to or not going to college?