Miscellaneous / Opinion

The Empirical Value of a College Education

The Great Recession of 2008-2009, from which the United States economy is still recovering, revealed some stark truths regarding the value of a college education. Not only do college graduates earn a great deal more over the course of their lifetimes (see Exhibit A below), but their rate of unemployment is far below that of those who do not possess college educations (see Exhibit B below). In short, there are jobs out there – for educated and skilled workers.Of course, not all college degrees result in the same median earnings, or result in the same low unemployment rates. And, as seen, there remains a disparity between male and female earnings – which our society must continue to address.

Here are a few guidelines for selecting your “dream career”:
First, by all means – identify and pursue your passion. Most people become excited about those careers for which they possess an innate aptitude. Second, narrow down your choice of careers by discovering what personality traits you possess, and how those translate into possible career paths. Alfred State’s Career Development has a fun and easy way to help you find your best career fit. CareerBeam is a 24/7 Virtual Career Center that offers online career assessments that assess your values, temperament, personality, interests and your skills & talents. You can complete the entire battery of assessments or simply start with the Quick Profile. The quick profile can be completed in less than 15 minutes and will provide you with a great starting point in your career exploration. Be sure to log in to our own Alfred State customized site by going to http://www.alfredstate.edu – student services – career development – CareerBeam (then create an account at your first visit or simply log in if you have already created an account). Second, evaluate the job market and starting and mid-career salaries. Again, Alfred State’s Career Development Office can assist, by providing information on salary information for various careers. Third, speak to your professors. Perhaps one of them has worked in your field of interest, or they can connect you with practitioners in the field you could then go interview. Fourth, if your interested career path provides same, identify and attend an industry event, such as an industry or professional association luncheon or educational conference. Take every opportunity to network with practitioners. Go with prepared questions. You’ll find that nearly all of those in your field of interest are more than pleased (and excited) to share their insights about the field with you

Dr. Ron Rhoades is an Assistant Professor in the Business Department, where he teaches Business Law and financial planning courses. He is also the author of “My Success Journal.” Elaine Morsman is Alfred State’s Director of Career Development. She has been in the business of helping people find their career path for over 15 years. Connect with her on LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/in/elainemorsman/.


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