The Realities of Post-Recession Employment for College Grads

college-graduationAlthough the recession has officially ended, some college students are still struggling to find employment relevant to their degrees after graduation.The future is starting to look better for students earning degrees in advertising, finance, human resources, and marketing. These degrees will fare best in this changing marketplace with demand expected to increase by as much as 5% this year. The news is not all good, though. Degrees such as computer science and engineering are experiencing weak growth. In a recent MoneyWatch article we learn that this weak growth is attributed to the increasing demand for students with associate’s degrees in applied engineering, computer science, and healthcare technology; demand for these associate’s degrees is up by more than 30%. Things are looking bleak for future MBAs as well. More people are earning advanced business degrees and, with demand for MBA positions expected to decline by 6% this year, the applications process for these coveted positions has become highly competitive. Again, the news is not all bad; demand for MBAs may be fading but an associate’s degree in business is among the degrees expected to be in demand in the near future.

While the employment scene is starting to look better for college graduates in certain fields, employers are remaining cautious in this post-recession period. With the fiscal cliff looming in Washington and the European financial crisis possibly jeopardizing international business affairs, employers are reluctant to risk expanding their own businesses and are hesitant to increase employment opportunities in this unstable financial market. Furthermore, some employers complain that college graduates do not understand the realities of the workplace and are ill-suited even to the limited career opportunities available to them.

Experience is Key

To compete in this uncertain employment market, students are encouraged to gain as much work experience as possible during college and to pursue internships in their field of interest. They are advised to get started as early as possible, with some students creating profiles and posting resumes on professional networking sites as early as their senior year of high school. USA Today College discusses the ways in which students can enhance their resume and gain experience while still in college in their article Beating the Odds: Getting a Job After College. Students unable to find internships in their field are encouraged to find volunteer work related to their course of study. Any related experience whatsoever can help students gain a valuable edge in the application process. When it comes time to apply for the elusive post-graduation job, academic advisors and career counselors emphasize the importance of the cover letter, the resume, and interview skills. While many college students do not yet have direct experience in these jobs, they should have a set of pertinent skills that they can show employers.

The recession has ended but the effects of the recession linger, negatively impacting recent and future college graduates. Demand remains low for many degrees even as it rises for a few others. However, students attending college should attempt to make the best of their experience and should take advantage of every opportunity available to them while they complete their degrees. In this economy there is no guarantee of finding a job even with a college degree, but this does not mean that jobs do not exist. It simply means that students need to learn to market themselves to employers.

Is There Really Such A Thing as a Free Education?

free collegeIt is widely understood and professed that higher education is a solution to the mediocre life; point taken. If we do well and go far in school, we are much more likely to have higher earnings and thus, a life of higher quality. However, there is a major negative factor: the associated high costs of obtaining a higher education degree are more than enough of a deterrent for many.

To the credit of colleges and universities, the costs of a higher education are actually quite necessary. As discussed in the Forbes news article, “Why Does College Cost So Much?”, the nature, technologies, professionals, experience, and other elements behind higher education cost money to provide. In other words, if there were not much substance or reputability behind higher education and its provisions, there would be lower costs associated with providing it, and therefore admission prices would be much lower, and less of a topic of conversation. A school is either accredited sufficiently or it is not. If not, prices and reputation will typically reflect this. If it is so accredited, one should expect a real education with real associated costs.

Free College?

There is however, one way out of this reality, one other solution. Contrary to typical public understandings, there are a select number of real, accredited, respected universities that can be attended for free. Of course, this depends on what you would consider free. Before getting too excited, reader beware. You may not need money for payment, but there will be probably be another type of payment expected. We offer a few examples for you to consider, all of which were highlighted in a recent New York Times article.

Deep Springs College

This school is actually located on a ranch in the deserts of eastern California. Men seeking a tuition-free education may apply to the school in hopes of being one of the 25 annually selected attendees. The two-year liberal arts curriculum focuses heavily on manual labor, community, and in-depth conversation among students and faculty. Most students go on to complete their education at prestigious 4 year universities.

Webb Institute

Webb Institute only accepts 26 students each year for its graduate engineering school. Its tuition-replacing enrollment requirements include stellar grades from a previous school, designing a cargo ship before graduation, and completing a thesis. According to the New York Times article, Webb Institute boasts a very hearty 100% employment rate among its graduates.

Berea College

This school in Berea, Kentucky, takes yet another approach to tuition payment. Students from financially depraved backgrounds, with good previous grades, and the ability to work 10-hours per week, can attend college here. Interestingly enough, Berea was founded by an abolitionist 158 years ago, with a very similar community vision.

Aside from these three schools, there are a number of others out there that still do offer a monetary-free alternative to paying a traditional tuition. Whether you consider this “free” depends on you. For those who see money as an issue yet strongly desire a higher education, these are probably, most often, close enough.

Will My Online Degree Will Get Me a Job?

online collegeA college degree can help you earn more money at your current job or put you on the path to the career of your dreams. Working a full-time job makes it extremely difficult for many people to deal with the rigid schedule of going to school at a brick and mortar university. Earning a degree online allows you to work on your schoolwork whenever you want instead of trying to schedule classes around your other responsibilities.

Traditional Degrees vs. Online Degrees: What is the Difference?

There usually isn’t a difference between an online degree and one you would earn by attending classes at a college campus. You learn the same material, just in a setting that is more convenient for your schedule.

The question that most people interested in obtaining an online degree ask is whether it will be as well accepted as one earned on a college campus. The answer to this will vary based on many different factors.

Degree-Granting Entity

Some employers may be concerned when it comes to the legitimacy of a school they have never heard of. In some cases, they are right to tread with caution. Many institutions grant degrees on “life experience” rather than actual completed coursework. Your best bet is to get your degree from an accredited institution and do your research.

The Level of Your Degree

Bachelor’s degrees from online institutions seem to be met with the most skepticism by potential employers. Gaining a master’s degree from an online institution gives students more clout in the workplace.

Field of Study

Online students will be met with less resistance in the workplace if they obtain degrees that are knowledge-based. IT, English and Accounting are all popular degrees that are knowledge-based. Regardless of what you choose to study, if you are working full-time while pursing an online degree, some people that interview you will view it as a mark of determination.

The Industry in Which You Hope to Be Employed

Some industries are more receptive to potential employees with online degrees on their resumes. Not surprisingly, fields such as New Media and Technology are the most likely to accept online degrees. Law and medical professionals will be met with more skepticism.

The Most Important Factor: Individual Hiring Managers

With most hiring situations, it all boils down to who interviews you and their personal preferences. Some people think work experience is far more important than your academic history. Others put more weight on academics and other accomplishments. If you are at the beginning of your career, you will likely see more emphasis put on your academic record because of your lack of work history.

Ultimately, only you can decide what type of degree will work best with your personal journey. Rest assured that with the right experience an online degree could be the final stepping-stone to the career you want.

About the Author

Daphne Smith researched the Top Degrees Online before deciding to earn her journalism degree at high-ranked online university.  She now encourages others to consider this viable education option, especially if they are already employed full time.

Flocking North for an Affordable Education

study-in-canadaOne of the biggest challenges and concerns surrounding students in the United States today is cost. Millions of students force themselves to go into debt in order to achieve a worthwhile education. However, as tuition increases prove to be nearly ubiquitous throughout the nation, many people find themselves asking if their degree is truly worth it.

Whenever this question used to arise, it was a simple matter of mathematics. People would point out that, yes, students would incur roughly this much amount of debt and be excluded from the workforce for this many years. However, the jobs they would ultimately be offered were often significantly higher paying. Over the course of a lifetime, college graduates would end up roughly a million dollars in the black. Now the prospect is much bleaker but the necessity remains.

Colleges are becoming more and more expensive. Simultaneously, more and more jobs are requiring college degrees for entry level positions that previously didn’t require them. This is placing students in an extremely difficult situation. They are forced to take out more and more in student loans which ultimately decreases the benefits of education in the workforce. But there are more immediate worries too. Those who have increased amounts of debt compounded onto them are more likely to default on their obligations. In fact, one in six Americans with student loans are in a state of default. They need to get an education for the highest paying jobs, but the education is becoming prohibitively expensive in both the long run and short term analyses.

Have Passport, Will Study

Interestingly enough, this hyper-inflated cost for college isn’t an international phenomenon. In fact, the United States seems to be fairly isolated in its excessive costs. Just across the northern border, in Canada, the average university is significantly less expensive. This isn’t only just a curious factoid; it’s something that’s providing a tangible difference in the lives of thousands of Americans.  A recent NBC news article described how there are roughly ten thousand Americans attending Canadian universities to pursue their bachelor’s degree. This figure is up significantly from a decade ago. There are a number of benefits that Canadian colleges are offering these students. Among these is a huge discrepancy in cost without suffering any loss of quality.

Canada’s bachelor’s degrees are set to an international standard, meaning that receiving a bachelor’s degree at a Canadian university will set students up to attend American graduate schools nicely. On top of that, it even provides them with a number of unique job opportunities that they wouldn’t have received if they had merely stayed in the country. Entrance to these universities is often portrayed to be much simpler and easier, especially since the emphasis on essays and recommendations is practically absent.

But the big motivator is price. Universities up north can cost roughly a fourth of what they do here in the United States, and often even less than that. For thousands, achieving the American dream seems to be happening with the first few steps occurring extra-nationally.