The Most Expensive Piece of Paper you Own

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college student hold a sign of student loanAh your degree, so much blood, sweat and Bartons went into obtaining that important documentation of your educational journey. Sleepless nights of studying and doubles at Applebee’s finally got you to the degree promise land where jobs were to be plentiful and pay was to be high. Many of us got to the top of the mountain, only to find a lack of resources and opportunity.

Our parents and educators pushed us to and through the higher education process because for centuries, a higher education was paramount to a great job, fantastic pay and benefits. Well, as it turns out, there were a whole lot of parent and educators pushing for the same thing. In a infographic on the history of job boards, we find some interesting numbers on, one of the largest job boards in the world. It turns out that over half (52%) of job seekers on have a bachelor’s degree and 24 percent have masters or doctorate degrees. It doesn’t take a college degree to realize that there are a whole lot of educated folks looking for employment.

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the current national unemployment rate is 7.4 percent, the lowest it’s been in almost 5 years. College grads aren’t getting a bite of that upswing though. Recent college graduates are experiencing an 8.8 percent unemployment rate.

Graduates are finding at the end of that long and hard journey that their bachelor’s just aren’t enough. According to a Work Trends whitepaper,

“Despite the large percentage whose first job did not require a B.A. or B.S. degree, 62% of all recent college graduates believe they will need more formal education if they are to be successful in their chosen career. Another 18% said they aren’t sure if they will need more education, leaving only one in five who said they believe they can have a successful career with the four-year diploma they have hanging on their wall.”

What makes all of this worse is that the average debt of a college graduate is only going up and, pay is not following that trend. A study from the Institute for College Access and Success Project tells us that the average debt of college graduates is up 5 percent from 2010, and they are at the highest level of debt in the seven years that the study has been in place. Today’s graduates are making the same $30,000 mean starting salary that they were in 2006. Because of inflation, and a still recovering economy, that $30,000 isn’t going as far as it used to, which means that college graduates owe more, and earn less.

But, it wasn’t a waste…

Although it’s turned out to be a hard-knock life for college graduates, it’s easy street compared to those who didn’t go for the degree. The unemployment rate for high school graduates is now over 19 percent; that’s twice what it is for degree holders. More stats from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics show us the median weekly earnings by educational attainment:

Full-time workers age 25 and older:

  • Without a high school diploma earn $477/week
  • With a high school diploma earn $647
  • With at least a bachelor’s degree $1,193

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Courtney McGann is the content creator and PR gal for Red Branch Media, an Omaha-based marketing firm. Red Branch Media was formed in 2006 as a simple consultancy. Today, the firm is a full-service B2B marketing agency, primarily focused on human resources and global workforce vendors. In the past Courtney has managed online communities, professional social outlets, marketing campaigns and event planning.