Why a Degree Matters

adult studying

If the economic landscape of the last several years has shown us anything, it’s that nothing, from a job to the security of the world’s largest corporations, is ever a “sure thing.” And although students can no longer count on staying at the same company for 10, 20, 30 years or more, like their grandparents did, one thing is certain -- a college degree shows commitment, perseverance, and tenacity. It shows a level of knowledge and skill, it shows promise, and most importantly, it will open doors that will help you achieve your personal and professional goals.

In this recovering and somewhat tenuous economy though, many still want to know what the big payoff is. After all, it is possible to get a good job and build a career without a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

In short, it’s employment, or at least the potential for employment.

According to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, the U.S. economy will create 55 million jobs by 2020 -- and 65 percent of those jobs will require at least some training beyond high school. The report estimates that:

  • 35 percent of the job openings will require at least a bachelor’s degree
  • 30 percent of the job openings will require some college or an associate’s degree
  • The fields with the most projected job openings will include health care, community services, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics)
  • The new labor market’s most in-demand skills will be judgment/decision-making, communications, analysis, and administration

At the current “production rate,” the Georgetown study estimates that by 2020 the United States will have 5 million fewer post-secondary-educated workers than it needs.

Beyond Traditional Education

Along with a degree, the Georgetown report highlighted several personality traits that are critical to success in the workplace, such as responsibility, curiosity, conscientiousness, and agreeableness.

The report states, “The move toward making people both college- and career-ready essentially amounts to finding ways to teach basic knowledge, transform these competencies into deeper learning, and help develop a flexible, adaptable individual with the skills appropriate for surviving in the 21st century.”

In the realm of online learning, students not only gain knowledge related to their majors or areas of focus, but also grow their independence, time management, self-monitoring, and critical thinking skills. These skills are not only required of students in an online environment but also clearly important to employers.

To read the full Georgetown report (Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce) and to review detailed information on the projected job growth in individual fields through 2020, as well as by state and across the country, visit Georgetown.edu.

Written by: Mary Rose

Mary Rose is a writer with 15 years of experience - covering topics ranging from education and technology, to cooking and entertainment. She's an avid reader, runner, and cook, and believes in the power of education, kindness, and traditional Sunday dinners.


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