Increasingly, it seems as though a college education is becoming a necessary requirement for obtaining a decent piece of the economic pie. Over the past couple of decades the distribution of income has been growing more and more unequal: the top end of the distribution has seen a growth in their income while those at the lower end have seen their real incomes stagnate (Irons 1). Education is the most important way in which people can make it into the upper end of the income distribution (Irons 1). But after the time, effort, and tuition, is college that important? Yes. The price of not going to college is even higher than the price of tuition. A person with a college diploma are more apt to lower unemployment rates, higher earnings, better working conditions, and benefits that are more rewarding people with only a high school diploma (Degree-VS-Diploma).
Getting a degree makes a huge difference in economic outcomes. The average college graduate earns about $45,000 more per year than those with only a high school education (Irons 2). Right now, the average high school graduate can expect to earn $18,737 a year (Degree-VS-Diploma 1). Obtaining a high level of skills becomes an important ingredient in becoming a success in today's economy.
Although there is little argument that people with college degrees earn more than those without them, there is also another ongoing trend to consider - the shortage of jobs for college graduates (Going the Distance 4). The demand for skilled, college-educated laborers is high. A college education can also determine a person’s future income potential and, in many cases, it is the only way a person can climb up the socioeconomic ladder. On average, a limited education impedes a person’s employment opportunities. Rather, how much education will affect how broad his or her job opportunity outlook will be.
The difference is not only in incomes when you discuss diploma versus degree. Stuart Himmelfarb, a partner at Student Monitor, a college market research firm, suggests that the experience-not the completion of graduation requirements-is what changes a person's perceptions and behavior. Himmelfarb says that interests in cultural affairs, the arts, and media are formed early in the college years and persist into later life. Of course, there are differences: College grads are more likely to serve on the boards of hospitals and charitable institutions; those without degrees are more likely to sit on the board of a church. Grads are more likely to play billiards and board games; non-grads are more likely to collect sports trading cards. But Roper Starch Worldwide did research that indicates that for all their confidence, people with some college are significantly less sophisticated consumers of financial services. Although they are more likely than less-educated consumers to say that their levels of savings are higher than a year ago (22 percent vs. 17 percent for high school grads and 13 percent for high school dropouts), they are far less likely to say so than college graduates (35 percent). (Going the Distance 5)
The overall issue of the growth of inequality in economic outcomes is one that will most likely remain with us for a while to come. For the time being it seems like the best course of action is to get people into, and through colleges (Irons 3). The price of not going to college is even high than the price of tuition (Irons 3). Better working environments and larger incomes are worth the extra 4-8 years in school.
Choose Your Path. “Degree-VS-Diploma” Retrieved March 25, 2001 from the The Innovators Home page on the World Wide Web: http://library.thinkquest.org/13611d-vs-d-htm
Feemster, Ron. (September 1999). “Going the Distance.” Retrieved March 26, 2001 from the American Demographics on the World Wide Web: http://www.marketingtools.com/publications/ad/99_ad/9909_ad/ad990902.htm
Irons, John S. (August, 26, 1997). “Education and Income Distribution”. Retrieved April 2, 2001 from the About The Human Internet on the World Wide Web: http://economics.miningco.com/money/economics/library/weekly/aa082697.htm
Word Count: 651