More than half of college graduates are working in jobs that don’t require degrees

Over fifty percent of American college graduates end up in positions that do not demand a bachelor’s degree or make use of the knowledge gained during their education. They may even remain in these roles for the duration of their professional lives.

The recent study conducted by The Burning Glass Institute and the Strada Institute for the Future of Work suggests that starting a career in a low-paying field or in a job that does not align with one’s interests may lead to being stuck in an undesirable role or industry. This is particularly concerning as an increasing number of individuals are beginning to doubt the worth of a college degree, while more and more employers are moving away from requiring higher education degrees.

According to CBS MoneyWatch, Burning Glass CEO Matt Sigelman revealed that despite a thriving economy, approximately 50% of graduates are securing employment that does not necessitate a college degree. Siegelman specifically mentioned industries such as retail, hospitality, and manufacturing as examples of sectors where these college-level skills are not mandatory. 

Helbert Valerio Carneiro (’27) expressed that “A college degree, alone, is not necessarily a ticket to a higher-paying job” in the sense that you are not guaranteed a job just because you majored in an area that correlates to a field of work. 

Opting for a profession-focused field such as nursing, rather than criminal justice, increases the likelihood of graduates utilizing their skills and receiving appropriate compensation. Only 23% of nursing graduates end up in underemployment, compared to 68% criminal justice graduates. Nevertheless, concentrating on subjects such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines does not ensure college-level employment either.

Alem Kemal (’27) mentioned that “It is so hard to get a high-paying job in the field you have studied in because companies require you to also have all this working experience prior to being hired, but how is it possible to get the experience without being able to get a job?” This is a common thought and worry that floods many students’ brains, especially as undergraduates near graduation. Kemal believes “more should be done” to address this cycle of concern.

It is true that students can enhance their chances of success within their career, which could be through exploration of alternative methods that make obtaining a college degree a valuable asset. For instance, obtaining an internship during one’s college years can decrease the likelihood of being underemployed by nearly half.

While a college degree offers advantages, such as increased job opportunities, higher earning potential, and networking, it’s important to also consider how the landscape of different industries and their requirements are changing. Regardless of whether or not individuals choose to attend college, they should seek continued personal and professional growth, and pursue areas that align both with their talents and passions.

(Featured image source: Aurinko Academy)

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