For most professional disciplines, a college degree is the minimum requirement for employment.
I believe that it will be rare for any young adult who does not continue her or his education beyond high school to realize significant professional achievement.
That said, it is also true that an undergraduate degree does not have the same return as it once did, especially for young adults who are entering the workforce for the first time or those who are pursuing new job opportunities with increased responsibilities. I believe that in today’s global workforce, a bachelor’s degree is equivalent to a high school diploma 40 years ago. This makes the attainment of an advanced degree an imperative for professional success.
As the competition for jobs increases, both domestically and in international locations, the amount of formal education becomes a distinguishing factor between otherwise equally-qualified candidates vying for the limited number of jobs that exist.
In fact, an advanced degree is becoming the norm, particularly for the Generation Y demographic. Interestingly, it is almost an expectation that you will not pursue your advanced degree immediately after college, but, instead, gain one to two years of work experience before returning to school.
On the other hand, I have noticed that for the Generation X working population, the norm has been either to pursue advanced degrees much later in our careers; or to choose to forego pursuit of an advanced degree entirely because of the level of success we may have already achieved with our current employers.
I have noticed that as the Generation X professionals continue to advance in their careers with the same
employer, the value of a graduate degree becomes counterbalanced with their experience and their institutional knowledge, which becomes the valued commodity that gives them a competitive edge.
While there are exceptions to high school graduates realizing professional achievements similar to that of a college graduate, it is definitely not the norm. As a result, the demand for online undergraduate and graduate degree opportunities continues to rise as more professionals realize the value of formalized education while allowing their employers to bear the educational cost.