A college degree is worth the high price tag

Despite increases in tuition, college degrees set students apart in the competitive job market.

Melanie Morales, Writer

As students prepare to thrive in today’s teetering job market, pursuing higher education has become an imperative decision. The cost, however, putting on hold many students’ plans to further education, has notably become a topic of discussion.

Questioning the worth of college

Alex Tabbarok, a research director for the Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif., said college is not worth the pedestal it has been given.

“College has been oversold. It has been oversold to students who end up dropping out or graduating with degrees that don’t help them very much in the job market,” Tabbarok wrote in the Investor’s Business Daily.

Steven Reynolds, a senior art major with an emphasis in graphic design graduating this semester, bemoaned his lack of marketability upon leaving Biola.

“You learn a lot about how to do things, but you learn it outside the environment that you’re going to be doing them in,” he said. “There isn’t really good networking either.”

Despite the difficulty Reynolds experienced in getting a job, he said he will most likely be working with Biola’s web development team for University Communications and Marketing after he graduates.

Reynolds felt that, while his professors had given him a good academic background, he didn’t know how to transition to the job market.

“There is a lot of stuff you just kind of figure out on your own,” Reynolds said.

College degrees do matter

Students who attain a bachelor’s degree produce 84 percent more income over a lifetime than those who hold only a high school diploma, according to Georgetown University Center and the Workforce study.

The study also found that today people with bachelor’s degrees will earn about $2.3 million over a lifetime. By comparison, people with just a high school diploma will earn about $1.3 million over a lifetime.

“My current plan is to go to Saddleback to get an internship with them,” said senior Brandon Calderon, a biblical studies major. He said that even though it’s difficult to not stress about security in the job market he continues to seek direction from the Lord.

Setting students up for success

Although some students may feel that Biola professors do not directly provide the professional skills needed to land a job, Biola’s Career Development is designed to provide students with opportunities and the ability to get a job.

“We help students to not only find jobs when they graduate, but also find jobs when they’re in school. And even before that, we try to help students to figure out what their strengths and passions and skills might be so that they can target the right kind of job in their future,” said Mark Matthes, associate director of Career Development.

Gathering alumni from all over the job market, Career Development hosts events where students can meet experts in their field.

“We pull in top-name organizations: Walt Disney Studios, Universal Studios. … So it’s a perfect opportunity for [undergraduates] to network with people who would receive them warmly,” Matthes said. “These alumni want to help people in ways they wish they were helped when they were here.”

Rick Bee, Biola’s senior director of the Alumni & Friends Development, noted that graduates have networking potential with alumni who are already in the job market.

“We’ve really seen it for both business [majors] and [Cinema Media Arts majors] but we’re starting to see it across the board,” Bee said.

Even so, some students struggle to find jobs related to their major straight out of college.

“A teaching job is a challenge, but the School of Education does a pretty good job of getting students placed,” he said. “Some of those humanities [majors] are a little harder and graduates tend to look at other venues.”

Even so, Bee noted most graduates find jobs related to their majors.

“If they’re tenacious, if they’re passionate, if they’re talented, there will be a role for them in whatever field that they have prepared for,” he said. “That’s true for just about every major. You might not come out as a director; you might come out as a [production assistant].”

Reminiscing on when he struggled with whether he should come to Biola, Bee mentioned some proverbial wisdom from former Biola president Clyde Cook.

“I asked Clyde Cook this question: How do you know what God’s will is in my life?” Bee asked.

According to Bee, Cook said: “Don’t question in the dark what you saw clearly in the light. We all tend to do that. We make a decision and then times get tough and we [question ourselves].”

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