Is a Degree Worth It? (Spring 2012)
By Karen Litzinger, MA, LPC


With only 50% of college graduates between 2006 - 2011 saying their job required a four year degree and 52% paid an hourly wage rather than a salary, you might wonder whether college is worth it? A report released on May 12, 2012 by Rutgers University Heldrich Center for Workforce Development shows the difficult times that recent graduates have faced.

Two thirds of recent bachelors degree graduates have loans averaging $25,250 according the The Project on Student Debt. With that and the bad job market, it's not surprising that Pew Research Center shows that 29% of parents report that adult children moved back in with them at some point over the past few years.

But news isn't all bad! Traditionally, lifetime income is higher with a higher degree and a survey by Payscale bears that out. However, salaries have been depressed lately. A Wall Street Journal article reported that The Economic Policy Institute stated that 2011 graduates earned 6-7% less than counterparts in 2000. And with the “recession hangover” as coined by Carl Van Horn of the Heldrich Center, salaries may not catch up due to the backlog in the labor supply.

Part of the reason I posed the “Is College Worth It” question is because I see so many people who automatically go for a bachelor's degree because of societal and family expectations. Sometimes it's not the right choice and a two year degree and career path would have been a better match to one's interests, skills and personality. Sometimes an 18 year old who isn't motivated toward a goal will flounder or party too much which isn't good for self esteem or the parent bank account!

Are you surprised to learn that only two of the fastest growing fields from 2010 to 2020 require at least a bachelor's degree? Click here to get detailed projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Heldrich Study also reported that 37% of graduates said they wished they wished they had been more careful about selecting a major or had chosen a different major. I can't tell you how many 40 and 50 year olds sitting in the chair across from me in my counseling office have said “I wished I had this help decades ago.”

Career counseling can help you and those you love make thoughtful, educated decisions about the future.

©2013, Litzinger Career Consulting. Permission granted to reprint this article so long as the text and by-line are not changed and reprinted intact with all links made live.
Karen Litzinger, MA, LPC, owner of Litzinger Career Consulting, provides career counseling, job search advising, outplacement consulting, and business etiquette training. More information is available at