student at graduation ceremony
Jun 14, 2016 | Carolyn Query

You had every intention of finishing your degree, but life happened and you got off course. It may be have only begun as a temporary derailment, however the years have passed and you have not returned to school. At this point, you are ready to continue pursuing your degree and the thought of going back to school after a long absence is intimidating. It may even be harder to imagine adding one more thing to your already full plate. You can’t help wondering, “Is getting my degree even worth it?”

According to job market analytics company Burning Glass, numerous jobs that previously did not require a bachelor’s are now requiring a degree. Organizations are using degrees as a filter to help narrow down their candidate pool or as the determining factor between top job candidates. Additionally, employers often view college graduates as “career-focused” individuals with “drive or talent,” while viewing those without a degree, as unambitious or less qualified (Rampell, 2013).

This is clearly seen by the wage gap difference between employees with high school diplomas and bachelor’s degrees. Currently at an all-time high, there is a $17,500 difference in starting salaries between an employee with a diploma versus a degree (Pew Research Study). To put it in perspective, the average starting salary for an employee with a degree is $45,500 compared to $28,000 for an employee with a diploma (Yen, 2014).

Discrepancy in pay is also seen between employees who hold an associate’s degree compared to employees with a bachelor’s degree. A 2009 PayScale salary survey showed that entry level employees with bachelor’s degrees makes at least 20 percent more than entry-level employees with an associate’s degree. For experienced employees, the difference ranges between 34 to 68 percent (Bardaro, 2009).

A degree can also help employees within their current organizations earn a pay increase or an internal promotion. Students without their bachelor’s degree have often shared stories with me about missed promotions or ineligibility for raises, regardless of how long they have been working for the company.

There is no doubt, a bachelor’s degree can help make you more marketable and give you an edge. Will going back to school to finish your degree be easy? No. But will it be worth it? Absolutely.

For information about earning your bachelor’s degree at Stevenson University, please contact Anna Oliver at aoliver2@stevenson.edu

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