Yes, a college degree still matters, but it requires work, particularly when selecting such an important investment. Compelling statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics continue to indicate that the college educated are employed at a rate nearly twice that of the national average when compared to high school graduates with no college degree.
That being said, I firmly believe in the array of academic alternatives available to students today. The challenge for a student is to find the right type of experience in all the available options. Students need to carefully investigate the accredited opportunities available for further study, including proprietary, distance, and technical education, the comprehensive two-year community college system, as well as the traditional four-year public and private college and university models.
While access to education is often correlated with success in the job market and is seen as a step toward economic independence (particularly for many first-generation, minority, veteran, or non-traditional students and their families) it takes research to find the right match. Like any smart investment, the pursuit of higher education requires effort to explore the options.
Once the decision to pursue higher education has been made, a student should take full advantage of the academic support systems available at the institution. These may include financial aid, academic advising, career development, personal counseling, disability support, health services, international or multicultural support, student engagement activities, or tutoring assistance. All of these areas are designed to assist the student in succeeding both in and out of the classroom.
So the bottom line is yes, a college degree or further study is worth it. Seek out the academic option that feels right and do the research to find the right path for you. And when you arrive at your campus--whether virtual or physical--maximize the support services to achieve your academic goals and aspirations.
About Peter Konwerski Senior Associate Vice President and Dean of Students at George Washington University
Naomi Schaefer Riley Author of 'The Faculty Lounges ... And Other Reasons Why You Won't Get the College Education You Pay For'
Robert B. Schwartz Francis Keppel Professor of Practice in Educational Policy and Administration at Harvard University