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With the continually-increasing cost of college, and the diminished availability of well-paying jobs, many people are questioning if college degrees are still worth their cost. The answer to that question, as many answers are, varies depending on the situation. In some scenarios a degree is invaluable, but there are some situations where a college degree is not worth it.

Is a college degree worth it to most people? Yes! I read job postings every single day, and there is a common trend in the requirements section of each posting: a 4-year college degree. In previous years, a Bachelor’s degree helped set you apart from other candidates; it demonstrated your desire to improve your knowledge and advance your career. Nowadays, this is still true, but the “degree requirement” most companies list on their job postings is also used to help them quickly rule out unqualified candidates. With so many job seekers in the market, requiring a degree is an easy way to reduce how much time companies have to spend sorting through potential candidates. Do yourself a favor and earn a degree, as it will likely help your job search whether your major is relevant or not. Food for thought:

According to a study performed on the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey data from 2007 to 2009, jobless rates are the highest among young adults with no degree. Job layoffs stabilized quicker for those with Bachelor’s degrees, and their salaries dropped less than their degree-less counterparts.

Is a college degree worth it to everyone? No! As everyone knows, college is not for everyone. Some of the most successful people in the country never earned a degree, including Bill Gates (Microsoft), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), and Steve Jobs (Apple). If you are a business owner or have an entrepreneurial drive, perhaps going to college is not worth the money for you. Unfortunately, starting your own business is a risk most people cannot afford to take, and businesses often fail. Because of this, I still recommend earning a degree – even if it is just a backup plan.

In summary, a college degree will benefit most job seekers. A degree helps set you apart from other candidates, enables you more leverage when negotiating your salary, and provides a solid backup plan if your business is less successful than you hoped. An old saying comes to mind which rings true in this scenario: it is better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

By Drew Roark