6 Tips to Get Back on Track with Online Colleges and Universities
By Beth Dumbauld
Perhaps you started college, but never finished. Perhaps you left college to move directly into a job and begin making money. And that was fine, then. There was a time, not that long ago, when you most likely could have a decent career without earning a post-secondary degree (bachelor or associate) or even a certificate. One of the great lessons of the Great Recession, however, is that workplace competition is fierce and those without the necessary educational requirements often get left behind.
It’s stunning to think about, but over the time period from 1973 to 2007, all of the net job growth in America has been generated by positions that require at least some post-secondary education.1 If you’re wondering whether you should go back to college, here are some facts to consider:
- 1973: Workers with at least some college made up only 28% of the workforce.
- 2007: Workers with at least some college made up 59% of the workforce.
Or another way of looking at it, is:
- 1973: People with a high-school education or less made up 72% of the workforce.
- 2007: People with a high-school education or less made up only 41% of the workforce.
The Financial Payoff for a College Education
According to a 2011 Harvard Graduate School of Education study, it was possible in the Seventies for those with no higher education but a strong work ethic to earn a middle-class wage. In fact, 60% of high school graduates did. Yet, just over 30 year later, in 2007 only 45% of high school-only graduates were able to do the same.2 One of the main differences between the US economy in 1973 and now was the dominating presence of manufacturing jobs. This is no longer the case in today’s economy.3 As a result, many people without a college degree are being left far behind due to a lack of a college education or appropriate post-secondary credentials. On the flip side, those who have been to college continue to move up, and widen the income gap.
Truly, the financial payoff for having a college education can be dramatic. The lifetime earnings gap between those with a high school education and those with a college degree is now estimated at nearly $1 million. Furthermore, this trend shows no sign of stopping:
- The median earnings of workers in 2008 who have not completed high school: $24,300
- The median earnings of workers in 2008 with a high school degree: $33,800
- The median earnings of workers in 2008 with an associates degree: $42,000
- The median earnings of workers in 2008 with a bachelors degree: $55,700.4
1 Harvard Graduate School of Education, Pathways to Prosperity: Meeting the Challenge of Preparing Young Americans for the 21st Century, 2/2011, p.2
2 Carnevale, Smith & Strohl, The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements Through 2018, 6/2010, p.4
5 Carnevale, Smith & Strohl, The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements Through 2018, 6/2010, p.26