School, Work, and Income

The College Payoff, a report from the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, briefly got attention on network news and social media. Unfortunately, most reporters (posters, tweeters, etc.) did not read the entire report. The big headlines were that those without any college education could out earn those with even a Bachelor's degree. While true, this is an over simplification of the report.

There is much more to the report - and much of it not new. The rule of thumb that more education pays off is still true, but more nuanced. Those with higher levels of education are not only likely to earn more per year, but are less likely to experience layoffs or extended periods of unemployment. However, those with a high school diploma can also earn millions over the course of a lifetime.

The report's Conclusion contains this insight, "...factors—from field of study and occupation to gender, race and ethnicity, and location—drive differences in earnings. The more reliable route to a high-paying career now requires mixing postsecondary education with the right combination of those factors, plus skills and experience. In other words, postsecondary education has become more valuable in the workforce, but its value is also part of a complex equation."

An emphasis is then placed on the need for improved high school career counselling. In fact, the report calls for such counselling to begin in middle school. It seems that some form of education beyond high school is required for any modern career - be that technical or vocational training, career certifications, or a degree of some form. Thinking about life after high school needs to begin before high school.

Students (at every level) need some help and guidance. This probably shouldn't be left up to just school system employees. More involvement from those in business and industry would be helpful. Especially considering the economic value of college majors. It seems the two most popular college majors are also two of the highest paying - STEM and business. These areas make up for almost half of all college graduates (46%). The ten majors with the lowest median earnings include arts, community service, education, social work, and theology. Bankrate's own rankings offer similar conclusions.

Hmmmm... Time to get a drink, sit with a nice cigar, and ponder your life choices - hopefully, with a smile!


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