Paper Chasing: Are College Degrees Necessary?

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By Joseph Iemma
Staff Writer

Before we begin; I’d love for you to check out these statistics, courtesy of the fine folks at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (last modified Apr. 2):

stats for college degree opinion

According to the chart above, if you were a part of the workforce in 2014 employed or unemployed, (note that if you were unemployed for three weeks during that time you are considered a discouraged worker) and had a doctoral degree, your field only experienced a mere 2.1 percent unemployment rate, [while receiving $1,600 a week].

Now, let’s look at the members of the workforce who have a bachelor’s degree: According to 2014 American Census data, roughly 66.9 million Americans who are 25 and over currently have a bachelor’s degree: taking home about $1,100 weekly, and an unemployment rate of 4.5 percent. Not bad.

Ah-ha!

While looking at 2014 American Census data, I decided to break out the calculator, and discovered a startling statistic. In a country with 209.3 million Americans above the age of 25, only 66.9 million Americans have obtained a bachelor’s degree and/or master’s/doctorate. That means 142.4 million people in America, age 25 or older, don’t have a college degree.

From left: Rachel Zerah, graduate social work major, and Melissa Colleary, graduate English major, posing at their undergraduate graduation in May 2015. Photo courtesy: Melissa Colleary
From left: Rachel Zerah, graduate social work major, and Melissa Colleary, graduate English major, posing at their undergraduate graduation in May 2015.
Photo courtesy: Melissa Colleary

Oh yeah, and about the graph, that demographic doesn’t even scrape out $700 dollars income a week (about $672 a week), and have an unemployment rate of about higher than 6 percent.

I mainly write opinion pieces. Why? Well, because I’m an opinionated person. I wasn’t really sold on the institution we’ve come to know as ‘college’ before I wrote this article, but when I really thought about it, and look at the numbers, there are really no opinions to be had. You need a college degree, plain and simple.

Also, I have heard the Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Lady Gaga redirect. “Oh he dropped out just after two years!”
“See, you don’t need college!”

In response to these opinions, I would say, “I’ll talk to you after class, let me know when you develop a blueprint for the next generation of technology that cultivates and changes a society, or when you realize that the voice you use to sing in the shower can also sell out Madison Square Garden.”

I know; you know; we know that college can be insanely expensive. However, college opens so many doors for us; doors that we really wouldn’t know about if it weren’t for college. Internships, opportunities to study abroad, and even networking with professors are part

of the opportunities given while attending college. Also, of course, Greek Life, something most people can only accomplish by going to college, and getting that diploma.

All in all, in my opinion, yes, college degrees are necessary. Without one, you’re literally selling yourself short.

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