Graduation ceremonies are taking place all over the country. For high school and college graduates, it is both exciting and nerve-wracking as they look toward uncertain futures. Should they go to college? Is their degree in demand? What college degrees are in demand? And, should they get that graduate degree? While there are no hard fast answers to the above, there are some suggestions that we can offer. So what’s the best advice for new graduates?
Should You Go to College?
If you believe the numbers coming from the Labor Department as well as a recent Associated Press-Viacom poll, then the answer should be a resounding yes. According to the Labor Department’s recent figure, it has become much harder for adults to find a job since the 2007 recession. The unemployment rate is over 20 percent for the past three years for high school graduates age 16-24 who have no college education. For their college grad counterparts within the same age range, their unemployment topped off at 8.5 percent this year.
There are many reasons cited for not going to college. Costs seem to be the driving reason why many bypassed college. And while many do plan on returning at some point, no timetable is given. College is and continues to be a very costly endeavor. So what can you do to make certain you secure that college degree?
Start at a local college thereby saving money on room and board and other associated expenses. You may also look at an online school that fits within your needs. This frees up some time for you to try to find a job that at least helps to offset some of the costs. Do not overlook scholarships. Look through some of the larger scholarship sites to see what type of scholarships you may qualify for… this is not a one time procedure. Many organizations and foundations offer annual scholarships which means you have to reapply.
Never over look filling out the FAFSA form (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). The deadline has passed for this year but without filing, you severely limit access to grants offered to college students.
Don’t necessarily rule out student loans. While you certainly do not want to take on more debt than you can ever possibly pay off on your entry level salary, there are some student loan forgiveness programs and low interest student loans that can fill in the gap between the funds you have available to pay for college.
Is My Degree in Demand?
The recent economic upheaval in our country has squashed the dreams of many young adults who assumed that upon earning their college degree, they would have no problems finding a job. The problem is that there were certain jobs that experienced higher layoffs during the downturn and that have not fully recovered. For those graduating from college, there may be a way to take your college degree and apply it to the workforce. For those graduating with an education degree, that may mean teaching in rural communities or even foreign countries. You may have thought you’d land your first job in your hometown but with recent budget cuts, that may no longer be feasible. Consider other creative uses for your degree to offset perhaps a lower than expected salary. You may try to build a tutoring business on the side or even work with an online tutoring company.
For those that graduated with a degree in management, consider some of the top national companies that may offer a management training program in exchange for a specified time commitment to stay on the job. The company may not be your first choice but by going through a professional training program, you are learning more skills and making yourself more marketable in the future.
What college degrees are in demand?
If you are just starting out in college, you may want to consider obtaining a degree in an industry that is experiencing high growth. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some of those industries include those that fall under the healthcare umbrella including physical and rehabilitation therapists, speech therapists, home health care and ophthalmology. Some of the growth is attributed to an aging population as well as new technologies that are addressing health care needs.
Another area that will see future growth is related to the emphasis on alternative uses of energy and going green. This includes the waste management industry, consultants for corporations and companies to make certain new buildings are compliant with growing federal regulations as well as the oil and gas industries following current concerns with offshore drilling and safety.
Of course, an industry that continues to experience high growth is the technology and internet industries. From building new websites to providing security to massive company servers, those with an interest in the internet and technology will see continued demand in an industry that is in constant change.
Finally, providing security whether it is localized to patrol services or more in-depth
security for large corporations, this industry is seeing steady growth especially in large metropolitan areas.
Should I get that graduate degree?
Today, going on to college has become such a standard practice that it is not considered an option. As a result, employers are now seeing a large number of job candidates who already hold a bachelor’s degree. So, what is the next logical step? Many are now considering continuing on for their master’s degree. So much so, that the number of applications to graduate school increased 8.3 percent alone between 2008 and 2009 according to the annual Survey of Graduate Enrollment and Degrees conducted by the Council of Graduate Schools.
Depending upon your career goals, obtaining a graduate degree may actually be the minimum requirement for working in the field. If you wish to work as a doctor or a psychologist, for example, you will generally need to earn your Ph.D. before you can become licensed and obtain a job in the field. And, if you want to become a certified public accountant, a majority of states require accounting degree seekers to complete 150 credit hours of education at an accredited college or university as a prerequisite to CPA certification. And, while this is not a master’s degree, many 150 credit hour programs lead to a graduate degree such as an MBA (Master of Business Administration), MACC (Master of Accountancy) or MST (Master of Science in Taxation).
What if the field in which you are entering has strong employment opportunities now? A worthwhile solution would be to enter the work force and investigate earning your master’s while working. With the growing number of online programs available, you may find that type of flexibility allows you to accomplish your goal of earning a graduate degree while you are also gaining the experience in your field.
For those looking to change fields that have already obtained a bachelor’s degree and have professional work experience, obtaining a master’s degree may make you more attractive to companies that are looking to hire the strongest candidates. This may separate you from the pack as well as offer you the opportunity to update your skills and knowledge base.
While these are merely suggestions, it does stand that finding the means to make certain there are job opportunities and growth available to you upon graduation is of the utmost importance.