Measuring a Degree’s Worth

With the bleak shape of the economy, it has been a major concern of students as to whether or not degrees will even mean anything once graduation day comes.


While the protection of being a student has its benefits, once a college grad steps out into the real world, the battlefield is leveled, and it’s a just a race to see who can beat out the competition. That being said, the bigger question remains. Is a higher degree is even worth it now, or is it nothing more than a second high school diploma?


Well, the answer to that question is simple. Based on statistics from the Census Bureau, more than 39 million Americans live below the official federal poverty line. This amount averages out to around 13.5 percent, meaning that education really is the single contributing factor in determining a person’s poverty status.


Also, according to the Census Bureau, an individual who has a college degree is seven times less likely to fall into poverty-stricken terms, while an individual with just a high school diploma is only two times less likely.


Plus, from a personal standpoint, even though the working world is harsh, it’s much easier to handle with a degree. In 2010, due to personal and financial circumstances, I took a break from Shepherd and began working full time at a facility for the United States Coast Guard. While the perks for working with the government were nice, it wasn’t long before I yearned to finish my higher education at Shepherd.


There is not a tool more valuable to an individual than an education. The perks, the freedom— none of those things matter once the reality hits that without any intelligence, one is truly powerless.


Yet it’s important for college students everywhere to learn early on that just attending classes and doing enough to pass won’t be enough to cut it anymore. Take pride in doing homework and reading assignments, and don’t be ashamed of doing extracurricular activities. Add as many merits to your resume as possible because the competition is doing the same thing and more. Exceed expectations; don’t do enough just to get by.


It took several years to learn this lesson, but I’ll never half-ass another college course again. No one should consider taking a year off of school or dropping out because of the opportunities that rise in the moment. A college degree is a much greater tool that will lead to more viable business opportunities.


My father once said, “No one can take your education away from you. Once you’ve earned it, it’s yours.” Job stability, retirement—those things aren’t guaranteed anymore, but knowledge is ingrained indefinitely.


It’s natural to be worried about finding a job in the post college world for any student, but that shouldn’t defer anyone from keeping an eye on the horizon. The benefits far outweigh any risks, and most individuals that aren’t lucky enough to be attending college wish otherwise. Sometimes it just takes looking through life from a different perspective to really appreciate what’s been taken for granted.

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