Is a college degree the new high school diploma? Yes

In a bad economy, people are more likely to stay in school. Some former students will take the opportunity of joblessness to finish a degree or go back to school for extra training. Students currently enrolled may dread graduation – perhaps enough to consider coming back for more degrees in
addition to their bachelor’s.

And that is exactly what they should be doing. While the bad economy at the moment is certainly an added motivation, students that really care about their education and their future should be considering graduate coursework.

In many ways, college has become what high school should be: a place to get a well-rounded education in order to become a successful individual in the “real world.”

But can anyone really accomplish that any more with just a high school diploma? Of course there are the examples of great pioneers in business – Bill Gates, for example – who got by without a college education.

Times are changing and it has become obvious that a high school degree is no longer enough. The consequence of this, though, is that college is the new high school and the situation is becoming even direr. With more and more competition for fewer jobs, a master’s degree may soon become the new high school diploma.

Even now, a bachelor’s degree means much less than it once did. It is enough to get you a pretty good office job, but if you want to impress employers, it takes more than this common degree now.

Of course there is nothing wrong with a mid-level job and many will be very happy to secure one in this economy. But do not expect your job to be in the field of – or necessarily even related to – what you studied in school, unless you have a graduate degree.

This brings us to the other reason why a graduate degree is necessary. If a student is engaged in his class work and is interested in his major field of study, a graduate degree is the way to make a real name for himself in his field.

How many St. John’s psychology major graduates now work as bank tellers or office managers? Again, while there is nothing wrong with these jobs, they are a far cry from the psychology field. A bachelor’s degree in psychology does
not a psychologist make.

Maybe that is the fault of the colleges. Perhaps a bachelor’s in psychology should be enough to guarantee quality in that professional field.

It could be that colleges are not preparing their students well enough in their majors as undergraduates because of all the required core classes.

Regardless of all this, though, engaged students – especially in the liberal arts – must realize that a bachelor’s is not always enough, and is quickly becoming less and less enough every day.

Though graduate programs are about to get more competitive and crowded, it will be worth it to go through with. Both to progress in their field of interest and to bolster a thin résumé, students should be considering study beyond a bachelor’s degree.