Guest Post

Why Your College Degree Is Not Enough

Once upon a time, it was common knowledge that a college degree practically guaranteed employment.  However, the rules have changed.  Students, both young and old need to understand that a college degree alone isn’t enough to stay competitive in today’s job market.  Pay attention, because there are plenty of reasons why your college degree just isn’t enough.

First off, a degree no longer sets you apart from the pack. Today, high school students are pretty much expected to go to college. Boomers are going back to college.  Plus, there is plethora of specialized technical colleges.  So, there are millions of other people with degrees looking for jobs just like you.  While the realization of the importance of obtaining a degree is wonderful, this shift in thinking took college graduates from the front of the line and placed them right in the middle.  This eliminated the competitive edge that a degree once provided.

Then, there is college degree dilemma, experience.  It’s hard to land a job without experience, but you can’t get experience until you land a job.  In today’s job market, experience trumps a degree every time.  So much so, that there is a push to keep seniors and boomers in positions past traditional retirement age in many industries.  This is due to the fear of losing knowledge and experience that recent graduates and young professionals do not have.  Even in industries that are intertwined with rapid technological, legal, and medical advancement, experience is the door opener and closer.

A degree doesn’t change the landscape of the labor market.  Recession, recovery, no matter where you may think we are this labor market favors employers.  Employers have their pick among the crème of the crop for each and every position. Jobs that were once considered entry level positions are being fought for and won by job seekers with mid and senior level experience. And no industry is safe. Even in careers with traditionally high demand, the number of job seekers far outweighs the number of positions. Applicants are finding that they must be the total package just to secure an interview. 

Finally, your degree doesn’t change where you are.  Believe it or not, your location has become just as important as obtaining a degree.  Economic recovery is happening more quickly in some cities and states.  In areas where hiring is slow those with just a degree to their credit will find it nearly impossible to land a job.

It’s a humbling reality for all recent graduates, both young and old.  But, the fact is that a college degree just isn’t enough in today’s job market. Regardless of your major or the type of position that you are seeking today’s candidates must have more to offer than just academic achievement.

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Comments (7)

  • A college degree just says you completed a set of requirements that would indicate you are trainable. There are a few exceptions such as engineers, accountants, nurses, etc. The rest need training to make that education valuable. Your performance in the work environment is important! How you perform and under what circumstance such as your responsibilities, the quality of your work, what additional training and how promotable you are.

  • After reading your post, it’s almost like you stole those words from my mind,heart and mouth! When I was done with college I planned only three more years of study and then I was hoping to find a job and live happily ever after. But I got stuck in a longer education process- 3 years undergraduate, 2 Years professional accounting qualification, 3 years masters degree in applied economics! I really hope I am not forced into a phd now just to get a job!

  • Amazing topic to reflect on. That’s why I always say that it is best to instill entrepreneurial spirit in our youth so that they can stand on their own feet and have their own business instead of relying on other companies to employ them!

  • It’s such a sad thing to notice how we are at the mercy of this capitalist society. It’s like we have to be afraid of everything- changing technology, economic situations, delayering of your company, offshoring- all these terminologies mean the same to me- ‘You are replaceable as an employee no matter who you are and where you come from’

  • Kevin, your article is right on the money. I have a BA/MS in Communications and HR Training respectively. In other words, my degrees are next to useless. I have learned that being self-taught on what I love doing has been my ticket to earning income. Every college student needs to read this article.

  • The reason that a college degree is not enough is because employers decided to change the rules. I went to college because I did not have the benefit of being born into a family where all I needed to do to get a job was to my dad make a few calls. The education was supposed to even the score between the privileged who got everything handed to them, and the un-privileged who were willing to better themselves to enjoy an adulthood without the lack that they experienced in childhood.
    Now all of a sudden it’s all about networking, who you know. Well that takes us back full circle. The reason why I went to college is because I didn’t have “connections” because I wasn’t born in the right neighborhood to the right family. So it’s really all about maintaining the class structure by making sure that people who started out poor never make it to the middle class.

  • Robert, you’re right. This is the era where employers will not recognize the ambition of a college grad, hire or train them. I’m age 52 and back in the day if one were lucky to earn a college degree employers would eagerly hire and train them. My poor mom raised me by herself along with 3 brothers and 4 sisters. In April 2010 I miraculously earned a B.S. in Health Science. My degree is situated for an entry level health care management position. I’m burned out with applying for entry level health care management positions. These health care agencies are unrealistic with their experience requirements, knowing that they had very little or no experience when they landed their position.

    This is also an era of increased age discrimination. What’s more is that there is no entity available to combat age discrimination in a significant way. Please don’t waste your time pursuing a complaint with the EEOC for their policies are geared towards dislodging your complaint against the employer. Currently I’m residing in Miami, a Hispanic dominated job market where I can’t even land a job at a fast food restaurant. If I’m lucky enough to land an interview employers can detect my age with my appearance. Other than that they can detect my age through the background check process. In so many ways I feel like a little kid. My autonomy and self esteem is suffering terribly. My income consists of only food stamps. It’s almost time to pay back my $25k student loan bill and if it weren’t for a good friend I would be living in the streets AGAIN. The current economy doesn’t help.

    I don’t know if this is a good idea considering the budget cuts? I was thinking that the feds could promote the hiring of college grads who possess no professional experience by providing an incentive where they convince employers to hire and train a college grad until the college grad is able to function in his/her position in a competent way. After such training the competent college grad would reimburse the feds starting with his/her first pay. CHANGE HAS TO COME FROM THE TOP BRASS!


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