The reality of today’s job market is that well-paying blue collar jobs have rapidly become a thing of the past. To ensure financial stability and career development a college degree is now a necessity rather than an advantage. Statistics show that more high school students are entering college than ever before. The National Center for Education Statistics showed enrollment in colleges increasing 11% from 1990 to 2000 and then an incredible 37% between 2000 and 2010 ("Digest of education," 2012, Chapter 4). They are leaving school with more debt than ever before and total student loan debt held by the US government has exceeded a trillion dollars (Rohit, 2013).
The economic uncertainty of the past decade has led to fewer jobs and therefore an upswing in college graduates leaving school with that large amount of debt and no job waiting in a competitive job market. As college continues to get more and more expensive it becomes apparent that the current model of traditional college educate is unsustainable for the next generation. The solution for the future will be a shift away from 4-6 years at a live-in college to alternative ones that will allow students to obtain real-world work experience, contribute to society, and obtain useable degrees without saddling themselves with large amounts of debt.
Higher Education is a Necessity
Over the course of the past two generations the workforce of America has subtlety shifted. The middle class factory work of yesterday has given way to the research, technology services world of today. Levy and Murnane point out that this concern was raised to President Lyndon Johnson by the Ad Hoc Committee on The Triple Revolution when they wrote of the coming “cybernation revolution” that would forever change the workforce structure of America (2004, p.1). The impact of this subtle shift has resulted in a workforce that now heavily trends towards white collar rather than blue collar and higher education is now a necessity for those seeking better employment, promotion, or higher income.
The reality of the job market makes the predictions to Lyndon Johnson seem understated. A quick review of the jobs sections of a local newspaper shows an alarming trend. Today degrees have become the gating factor for HR department hiring managers everywhere. According to a study at Georgetown University, by 2018 63% of all jobs in the country will require education beyond high school (Carnevale, Smith & Strohl, 2010, p.1). As more people obtained college degrees the bar has been moved and having a degree is now N accepted norm for hiring criteria. It is not abnormal to see job listings for administrative assistants or sales roles requiring a two year degree as a minimum. This effect has only been heightened by the economic downturn as college graduates turn to unskilled jobs until the economy rebound leaving even fewer jobs for those with only a high school diploma.
If simply getting a job requires a degree then...