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Is a Bachelor’s Degree Worth It? Sorting Fact From Fiction

As you explore whether a bachelor's degree is right for you, you might run into negative information out there around the value of a bachelor’s degree. Some say too many degrees are flooding the market. Others claim that acceleration of technology and obsolescence makes academic degrees less important in some fields. But, that’s not really a fair assessment.

In reality, a bachelor’s degree still holds high value for both professional and personal objectives.

Let's take a few minutes to bust some myths and present some real reasoning on the value of a bachelor's degree in today's employment market. It's good to be both skeptical and savvy. Armed with accurate information, you can stay focused on the true goal at hand: Really determining if a bachelor's is worth it or not.

5 Bachelor’s Degree Myths Busted

1. Myth: Bachelor’s Degrees Are Becoming Less Important in the Job Market

Not true, according to the Occupation Finder tool at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Out of 818 job titles, most jobs (41%) require a high school diploma. In a solid second place, with 21%, are jobs that require a bachelor's.

So, how important is a bachelor's degree today?

To uncover the truth, you must ask two important questions about the degree’s potential to land a job and impact earnings.

Question 1: How Many Jobs Require A Bachelor’s Degree Today?

  • 13% Require No Formal Education
  • 41%* Require only a High School Diploma (or equivalent)
  • 12%  Require an Associate's Degree or Professional Training
  • 34%* Require a Bachelor’s Degree or higher
  • *96% of these jobs have a projected growth rate of “faster”, “much faster”, or “as fast as average” by the Bureau of Labor

Question 2: What Impact Does a Bachelor’s Degree Have on Earnings?

  • $35,256 Average Salary Earned
  • $41,496 Average Salary Earned
  • $59,124 Average Salary Earned
Sources: Payscale, Bureau of Labor, US Today

In today’s fast-evolving job market, a bachelor’s degree is extremely critical in most growing fields. A killer combination is a degree in a field with experience or related skills.

2. Myth: Getting A Bachelor’s Degree Will Put Me In Significant Debt

With online courses saving students up to 30 percent, a bachelor's degree can be more affordable than you thought.

For example, if you have some college courses behind you, a school might accept the coursework as transfer credit, saving you both time and money. Additionally, with increasing demand among older students, you'll find more opportunities for fast tracking and accelerated degrees than ever before.

However, sometimes student loans may still be necessary. In that event, the key is to be thoughtful, do your research, and understand the true value of your planned degree. To plan your finances effectively, ask the following questions:

  • How will the degree you are seeking to earn change your career path?
  • What will the change in your salary be with a Bachelor’s degree?
  • How long will it take you to reach that earning potential?
  • Can you apply the additional income to the loan balance to pay it off quickly?

With the above in mind, you can plan your finances so that a student loan can be paid off in a reasonable amount of time. There are some degrees and cost scenarios that just make a lot less sense than others; it’s up to you to run the numbers and feel confident in your decision.

3. Myth: Employer’s Aren’t Really Looking for Degrees During the Interview Process

This myth is definitely untrue, according to Dr. Doug Ross, Chair of Business Administration at Franklin University.

"In the past 5 years, human resources and recruiting have changed drastically. Now, most job applications you submit are electronic, and they're sorted by a computer. If your resume doesn't have 'bachelor's degree' checked—but it is checked for a hundred other candidates—where do you think your resume will end up in the pile?"

These days, "checking the box" on a bachelor's degree has become more important than ever in many fields from healthcare administration to marketing to cybersecurity.

Heading back to school? Make sure you max out your Financial Aid with the help of this free FAFSA report.

4. Myth: I Don’t Have The Time Right Now To Go Back To School

Life is busy. There'll always be commitments that make it feel like the wrong time for college. With some careful planning, you'll be able to schedule courses, consider online coursework, go part-time instead of full-time, and manage your education in ways that work for you.

"I think the course schedules that Franklin allows really made it easy. Because whether I needed a six- week course or a 12-week course, it was available to me. It was easy for me to find a course that was offered in a way that really met with my personal schedule. I think what Franklin really helped me do is really hone my time management skills. The coursework is always posted in advance so you can see what’s due in the coming weeks or coming days so you can make sure that you’re managing your time correctly and efficiently.” - Chris Rutter, graduate of Franklin University

It may never feel like a “good time” to go back to school. You just have to make it a priority. Enroll. Keep chipping away at your goal. The sooner you start, the sooner you'll have the chance to enjoy the career and financial benefits of your degree. Don’t let your fear stand in the way of your future.

TIP:Talk with your college admissions director to discuss any programs they might have for work-life-school balance. Many students before you have paved the way as they've worked with school administrators to fit school into life—and life into school.

5. Myth: Experience Is More Important Than A Degree

Nope. That's just plain false.

Of the top 20 careers with the "most new jobs", there are 6 job titles that pay between $60-100k a year—and all of them require a bachelor's degree to get in.

graphic describes the highest growth jobs by salary

5 Reasons Why a Bachelor's Degree Is Worth t

1. Truth: The Need for Bachelor’s Degrees is Rising

Automated processes are everywhere, and growing at an incredible pace. Those $40/hour jobs on the assembly line of a car plant are slowly disappearing to automation.

Yet, the demand for talent is rising, not decreasing. The Ohio Department of Higher Education estimates that nearly two-thirds of the jobs available in Ohio will be jobs that require post-secondary education. According to the Georgetown Public Policy Institute, 35 percent of new jobs in America will require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree for application.

2. Truth: Those With Bachelor’s Degrees Are More Likely To Be In Stable Careers

In addition to finding new work, a bachelor’s has impact on current employment.

Those who hold bachelor’s degrees are less likely to be let go from their companies as compared to those without a degree. Did you know that the unemployment rate for people with a high school degree is 8 percent and only 2 percent for those with a bachelor's degree.

graphic describes bachelors degree versus no bachelor degree

3. Truth: A Bachelor’s Degree Can Pay Itself Off

You might be surprised how fast you might "get back" what you spent on your bachelor's degree. When hiring for promotions, companies don't want to have to train. They want someone who can hit the ground running. Your bachelor's degree is truly an investment in you—one that pays off in increased pay, visibility, and the perks that come with a promotion.

According to data compiled by the Economic Policy Institute, college graduates earn 56 percent more on average than their counterparts who have only earned a high school diploma. That number has increased from 51% in 1999, and it’s the largest gap in earnings since 1973. In today’s market, we may see that gap grow even more.

4. Truth: A Bachelor’s Degree Can Help You Earn a Living from Your Passions

A change in career when you're older can be exciting and challenging. A common scenario might be people with 20 or 25 years in the military; they choose retirement, but they know they don't want to stop working. Military skill sets don't always translate into civilian life, so returning to college can be the perfect kick-start to drive a late-stage career change.

"The best scenario for success," according to Dr. Doug Ross, "is when you get your bachelor's degree in order to support your passion." Perhaps for the past 10 years, you've done work in business administration, but you've always wanted to be a nurse, like your mom. You have a working knowledge of what the job takes. You know the ups and downs and are familiar with the setting."

You have the passion; that's the most important part. Now, all you need is the right knowledge base in order to fulfill your dream. Consider yourself lucky; some people don't yet know what their passion is."

5. Truth: Bachelor’s Degrees Are Great Learning Experiences

Until now, all we've talked about are career goals. But sometimes, education is about you—and a personal goal.

Many seek a degree out of a desire for personal enrichment. A degree can provide an opportunity to dive deeply into a subject that's extremely interesting to you as an individual. From a personal-development standpoint, it can increase your critical-thinking and decision-making capabilities in a way that enriches all other areas of life, not just your career.

Many others seek a bachelor's degree as a means to more freedom in their lives. The simplest manifestation of this is either landing a job with a predictable 9-to-5 schedule of working weekdays or a flexible job that's less bound by time or place. The result is more control of their schedule to make time for more experiences in life.

You’re Worth The Investment

Getting a bachelor’s degree is worth it—especially for professionals and adults who want to rapidly accelerate their career or find a new career. Now that you've separated fact from fiction, you can plan for your next step forward.

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