Sharing news and commentary about education, careers, investing, and life.

Sharing news and commentary about education, careers, investing, and life.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Does everyone need a graduate degree?

I always like to go back and read again through the previous month’s papers even though it’s a time consuming habit. When I was doing that this morning I came across an old article in the WSJ (April 19, Page A2) that talks about the lack of well-educated workers in the United States. The first question provides the impetus for the rest of the article and that is: how can the U.S. be short of educated workers?

“The shortage is evident from this fact: Employers are paying the typical four-year college graduate [without graduate school] 75% more than they pay high-school grads. Twenty-five years ago, they were paying 40% more.”

So the value of a college degree is higher than ever – and yet it doesn’t explain why “wages of the average worker with a four-year degree and no graduate work haven't kept up with inflation in recent years; on average, only those with graduate degrees have beat inflation.”

Perhaps we’ve reached an “education plateau” when it comes to rising wages for people with just undergraduate degrees? Adding to the increasing pressures of modern life, it seems that to keep wages ahead of inflation our younger generations are going to see graduate degrees as a must have, instead of something that used to be considered a bonus in the workplace.

Even more disconcerting is the statistic based off the 2000 Census that notes “43% of those between ages 22 and 34 who report any college attendance didn't get any degree; 13% didn't even finish a single year of college” – if a graduate degree is becoming more and more necessary in the workplace, what’s going to happen to those younger generations that do not receive even an undergraduate degree?

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