In times of high unemployment a college degree is the key to the door for a job. Competing for a job with as many a 500 other applicants means that those applicants without a degree never make it to the hiring table. Resumes without a college degree does not even get the 15 second review by hiring managers. Those resumes opened without a college degree are deleted in three seconds. In most instances those without a degree need not even bother to apply.
I can hear the challenges now, “but what about experience, but what about Bill Gates?” Mr. Gates has had tremendous success without a degree that is true. I would encourage those who argue that a degree is not needed for employment to apply to Microsoft. Good luck. Experience in the workplace has value, but what has even more value is experience and education. After twelve years of working for a company without a degree there will competition for a promotion with someone who has eight years experience and a degree. Who gets the promotion? Advantage degreed employee.
With 30 years of leading teams in the food packaging industry my experience meant little to a hiring manager following the abrupt closing of my previous employer. “Do you have a degree?” he asked. “I have 27 years of experience,” I replied.” “I know about your experience, but do you have a degree because we are only accepting degreed candidates for this position.” “Yes, I have a degree,” I replied. I was hired following a very competitive interview process. The other candidates were also degreed. Those talented non-degreed supervisors and team leaders who expressed an interest in the position, I’m told there were many, we not even considered.
A degree is not a guarantee to a successful career but you will not have a successful career without a degree. No question that the cost of an education for those struggling financially is prohibitive. Find a way. Even if it means taking one class at a time and it takes ten years. Over a forty year career the investment in time and dollars in the pursuit of a college degree will more than pay for itself. The difference in salary between degreed and non-degreed is often anywhere between 15-20 thousand dollars annually.
Thirty years ago a degree was not needed for a high paying job with a long career. That time has passed. Today the best chance at success is a college education.