Ideas, rants and raves, with emphasis on Science, Politics, Personal Growth and Finance

A College Degree REALLY Matters

Posted by The Lukester on January 11, 2008

JD, at Get Rich Slowly, has an excellent post outlining the correlated advantages of having a college degree: the levels of income and life satisfaction increase with higher level of education. While it’s not 100% certain that the correlation is cause-and-effect (is it really the education?), the argument for getting a degree – the higher the better – is very compelling.

Case in point: I never got a degree. And it has really hurt my options over the years. I’m smart, well-read, enjoy learning, raised middle-class. None of these are prerequisites for higher eduction, but most people simply assume I have a degree and are surprised to discover I do not.

When younger I was able to get good jobs through contacts and friends, but when the job market dried up some and I wasn’t quite so youthful anymore, suddenly I found that doors were closed. I wasn’t finding jobs that I could grow in, my skills suffered and every change meant starting over.

With each effort at finding a job, I could visualize the life cycle of my resume (whether I was referred by a friend or not): the person or the machine would sort though them, putting those with degrees in one pile and those without in another. They’d check through the degree pile first and even though I had years of experience, rarely got a second look.

Why didn’t I get a degree? There are several reasons, but the biggest was that I just wasn’t paying attention! I didn’t realize that having a degree mattered; my parents didn’t drill it in or I didn’t care or know what I wanted to do, I wasn’t focused enough – or all of those. Also at the time (mid-late 70’s) it just didn’t seem as important generally as it does now. I actually DID take some college classes at several schools but never completed a degree.

Whatever the reason, I can tell it’s hurt me. I only recently got a full-time job (it’s been years since I felt I was on a career track), but then only because I started as a temp and they liked me. I’m starting at an “OK” salary but small for the region. I have very little savings and not much equity. A simple piece of paper might have made a huge difference.

Bottom line: if you can possibly swing it, get the damn degree!


One Response to “A College Degree REALLY Matters”

  1. youngandindebt said

    Thank you! I am working very hard to finish my degree now, and it seems like most pf bloggers simply assume that everyone my age simply has a college education paid for by their parents and that we should not have any debt. It’s hard financially because not only does school cost a lot, there’s also the opportunity cost of the income I could be making. Your reminder about the economy going down and not getting jobs through contacts seems to indicate that I am doing the right thing.

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