I just read a New York Post article on Digg that reported how earning a college degree isn’t worth it, financially and intellectually.
Jack Hough writes: “A student who secures a degree is increasingly unlikely to make up its cost, despite higher pay, and the employer who requires a degree puts faith in a system whose standards are slipping.” The basis for this slippage in the degree system’s standards is that degrees are becoming increasingly easy to earn, but increasingly difficult to afford. According to the U.S. Department of Education, rising tuition and fees outpaced inflation by 36% at private colleges and 51% at public ones from 1995 to 2005. But the actual substinance of the education these tuition and fees paid for dropped, as the department also reported that literacy levels for college graduates fell sharply over a similar period (1991 to 2003).
In effect, employers are becoming increasingly unimpressed with a college degree, especially as, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost 10 percent of the U.S. population is unemployed and competing for work. Earlier this summer, CNN reported that only 18 percent of students who graduated this May will find a job in the coming months. In other words, for every 10 students who just graduated, less than two are able to find a full-time job. That leaves the other 81 percent of us competing with 10 percent of the population (most of which are layoffs from higher positions who have much more experience than us college grads).
In other words, if you just graduated from college, your degree is not enough to an employer. You have to discover a unique selling point that makes you more valuable than the guy with 25 years of working experience. That unique selling point for most of you is the fact that just about every employer out there is itching to implement social media into his or her marketing strategy. These employers are desperate to find people who can help leverage this technology to their strategic advantage, and our generation has the unique ability to naturally fill that void (at usually a much cheaper price). What they see as a “brand new phenomenon” is the same simple technology we’ve been using since we were all in middle school. Growing your expertise in this area is the key to standing out among a bunch of “more experienced” job applicants who still use Windows 98 and have no idea what SEO means.
National and statewide newspapers — with the exception of niche publications and local newspapers — simply cannot compete with a medium as inexpensive and widely used as online content. It is as natural as survival of the fittest, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. The decline of traditional media is more of a threat to people now being laid off than it is to our generation. The process of retrieving information and the way people connect with one another is inevitably shifting to the Web, and employers need people who understand how to strategically use these tools to reach their evolving markets, which is where we fit in.
As more and more companies begin to completely rethink their traditional business models, doors are beginning to open us up to a market geared toward a culture we already know and understand. The stage is being set for an economy that is increasingly dependant on the unique skills and knowledge our generation learned to embrace years ago.