By DeVry University
In today's fast-paced, entrepreneurial world, it's no surprise that people may ask themselves: is college necessary? These days, building your own brand can be as simple as creating an account on Instagram and growing your network is just a few clicks away. So does a college degree still matter? We've rounded up the facts to help you decide. Here are a few reasons why college is important – and can help you reach your goals.
The ROI of a College Degree
You may have heard people questioning the value of a college degree, but aren't entirely sure where you stand on the issue. When in doubt, weigh their arguments against the data, then decide for yourself. Is college worth it? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- Those with a Bachelor's degree earn, on average, 64% more per week than those with only a high school diploma.
- Graduates with a Master’s degree earn nearly double the amount of high school grads.
- At 4.1%, the high school grad unemployment rate is more than twice as high as the 2.8% unemployment rate for college grads with at least an associate degree.
When considering the above statistics, it's easy to make a case for earning a degree. Simply put by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: "In terms of dollars, education makes sense … the more you learn, the more you earn."
The Benefit of College Internships
But what about entry-level jobs and internship opportunities – do similar benefits apply for college-bound applicants? Typically, yes, says Terri Wallman, director of employer relations and internships at DeVry University.
"For many students, the internship is an entry level job, often with potential to turn into a full-time position. For students interested in a competitive company or field, internships can open doors to the organization." Wallman explains. "Being in school certainly provides access to opportunities you may not have had otherwise."
Each year, Wallman's team helps hundreds of students at DeVry connect with businesses and organizations for internships around the country. DeVry's Career Services team speaks with students about their personal strengths and helps identify internships that align with them. When helping match students to the right opportunities, without fail, Wallman says businesses often want interns who demonstrate emerging knowledge in their industry.
"That's where your degree comes in, particularly the courses you're taking," she says. "For instance, if you're applying for a job or internship in cybersecurity, an employer will definitely want to know that you’re taking classes toward industry-wide certifications and cyber technologies. Pursuing a degree in cybersecurity is one easy way to show your passion and expertise, even as a student. The same idea applies to other fields."
In addition to the knowledge gained in college, an internship can be a great way to demonstrate hands-on experience to potential employers. It provides students with an opportunity to add valuable work experience to their resume before they ever graduate. "When you're in college, it's definitely a chance to benefit from an internship opportunity," says Wallman.
Level-Up Against Competition
When you're applying for jobs or internships, it's also common to consider the competition. While data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics already confirms that a college degree can net more money, it may also help you stand out among your peers, according to senior director, Mita Golda, at ADP Research Institute.
Golda is convinced that: "If an employer has to hire and there are two people with similar experience and skill sets, and one has a college degree and one doesn't, [typically] they'll opt for the one with the college degree."
So before passing on a degree, be sure to educate yourself on your desired job and industry. Will most entry-level positions in your field require a degree? Start with the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to find an informed answer, then explore degree programs that may meet your needs.
A Degree Can Elevate Your Skillset
Besides helping boost your chances for opportunities, a degree can also help you build skills while learning a subject you enjoy. This was definitely the case for game designer Jonathan Weinberger who earned his degree in technical management from DeVry University.
After transferring to DeVry, Weinberger had to earn as many credits as possible to meet requirements for his degree while ensuring that his classes prepared him for work with future employers.
"I needed to receive as much academic credit as possible from my prior studies and make sure what I’d be learning would be applicable to my career," Weinberger said. "I was able to achieve both."
During his time at DeVry, Weinberger took classes that built his skills and helped him expand his portfolio. One class in particular resulted in him creating a course for gaming company Unity Technologies as part of his senior project at DeVry.
"Unity wanted a one-of-a-kind course that helps new developers feel comfortable exploring their platform and developing games. As excited as I was, I wasn't sure I could pull it off," Weinberger said. "But the management skills I learned while taking the senior project course at DeVry have been invaluable to me and were significant in helping me orchestrate so many people and project details."
Another reason why college is important? Earning a degree helped Weinberger grow personally and achieve goals that weren’t always possible. When he was younger, Weinberger attempted to land his first job in gaming, but said not having a degree held him back. Now that he has a degree, he feels as if he’s in a position to continue mastering his skills and reaping the benefits of his education.
"From society's standpoint, a degree is important," Weinberger says. "Once I got it, everybody quit telling me I should. I just wanted to do it on my own terms and my student support advisor at DeVry understood what I was going for right away."