Ask Away: Does College Matter Anymore?

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Welcome to Ask Away,’s weekly column! Every Monday (we know — today is Tuesday. But usually, we post Ask Away on Mondays), we’ll pose an employment-related question to a group of experts and share their answers. Have a question about the job market you’d like to ask the expertsLeave it in the comments, and you might just see it in next week’s Ask Away!

This Week’s Question: Received wisdom says that, if you want to get a good job and have a successful career, you need to go to college first. But plenty of commentators have taken to the Internet in recent times to argue that college degrees don’t really matter in this day and age. So, I ask: does a college degree matter anymore?

“It depends on the job. When it comes to my legal/accounting/finance work, I need you to have a degree and show working knowledge of your capabilities.Those are jobs that require certifications by state and lengthy hours of study time.

“But customer service, marketing, illustrators, graphic design, IT, etc.: I just need you to be able to do the job. I could care less about your degree. And that’s because most of those jobs are intuitive. A degree may help, but most of the good people in these fields are self-taught.”

– Jazmin Truesdale
Mino Enterprises

“Yes! And they do on so many levels.

“College is an excellent time of transition, and many students can show that they have loyalty and commitment by getting their degrees.

“Majors matter. I work in commercial real estate and work with 30 universities across the country that offer degrees in real estate. We recruit and hire [students with these degrees]. I continue to see generations of these students dominate the industry.”

– John M. Crossman
Crossman & Company

“In my opinion, college degrees still matter nowadays. Yes, 20 years ago, a college degree had a better value, but college
degree still matters.

“A degree won’t automatically make you an expert in your field or put you in a top position, but for sure it will get you noticed when you start and open doors that [wouldn’t be open] if you didn’t have a degree. Then, it is up to you how you will take advantage of these opportunities that the degree created.

“Another reason that a degree still matters is that good careers cannot be pursued without a degree. How can you become a doctor, an economic analyst, an investor, or an academic without a degree? Yes, there are people like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates that became billionaires after drooping out of college, but every rule has an exception, right?”

– Noel Griffith

“In his book AntiFragile, Nassim Nicholas Taleb suggests that college is a byproduct of economic success, not the creator of it. Therefore, it could be said that an entrepreneurial-minded person could be successful without ever attending school. If we broaden our view of the college experience to include making us better citizens and, ultimately, better people, then the importance of
college increases.”

– Dave Popple
Psynet Group

“No a college degree does not matter anymore! What most people fail to realize is that, according the U.S. Census Bureau, only about 30 percent of the adult population has a bachelor’s degree or higher. That leaves approximately 70 percent of people without degrees. The ultimate goal of college is to get a degree in order to be gainfully employed — however, based on the data I just shared there, are more adults without degrees than adults with degrees, and these people still work every day.

“While a college degree is not necessary, some form of higher education or technical training is required. There are college graduates who leave their institutions with their four-year degrees only to find out that they are unemployable! Yet, there are [also] young people who leave high school with career and technical certifications who will make more money than a degree could ever yield.”

– Felicia G. Meadows
Counselor, coach, and consultant
Tomorrow’s Future Coaching and Consulting

“College does matter, but what matters the most is how you utilize your time there. It’s true that a degree alone may not be enough to set you apart from the thousands of other graduates applying for the same set of jobs — that’s why you need experiences. While in college, students need to pursue internships and study abroad trips, join organizations, and go to conferences. These are the things that provide you with a well-rounded and complete education.

“To fully capitalize on college and land a job after graduation, you need to get out of the classroom. As a society, it’s important that we provide college students with the access to these experiences and help pave the way for bright futures.”

– Christie Garton

“I went to school for English literature. At no point in time have I ever been hired based on my education; [I’ve always been hired] based on my experience. I actually dropped out of my master’s program to pursue working full time in marketing, which I am now thankfully doing.

“More and more individuals my age are realizing that college was a huge waste of money and time. Higher education is important for specific fields, but for some [people], it’s just a financial investment that may or may not ever pay off. It makes much more sense for individuals interested in specific fields to begin working in them in a part-time capacity to discern whether or not they actually enjoy the job. Right now, we have [a similar] model in unpaid internships, but most [people] can’t afford to work [unpaid internships]. The system obviously needs a shakeup!”

-Rachel Margaritis
Marketing manager
Acupath Laboratories, Inc.

By Matthew Kosinski