What is the worth of a degree? Some commentators maintain that degrees are a waste of time and money. It is certainly true that they are expensive in the US and many students find themselves to be in serious debt at the end of their studies. So is it worthwhile getting a degree?
The answer to this question depends on how you define ‘worth’. If you define it in terms of getting a job, then as the BLS analysis shows, you are more likely to be unemployed without a degree. If you define ‘worth’ in terms of earning potential, then you are more likely to earn more with a degree than without one. So, if worth is measured by earnings and employment prospects, then numerically a degree looks worthwhile.
But this analysis only looks at the numbers. It is harder to measure ‘worth’ in terms of quality of employment, i.e., getting a job that you find rewarding in non-financial ways. And it is even harder to measure the worth of a degree in those areas not directly related to training for employment, e.g., broadening one’s views of the world, self-awareness, creativity, greater understanding of people, tolerance of diversity, etc.
Given the rate of change in the workplace, a narrow view of education as training for employment can lead to graduates with knowledge and skills that rapidly become obsolete. But the generic skills and attitudes mentioned above will never become obsolete, and are extremely valuable in an organization seeking to respond to the changing business landscape.
So even education in those areas not directly related to employment, can ultimately assist in increasing your worth to an organization, and hence to employability, as well as enhancing your skill set for a fulfilling life. And that is the worth of a degree.