Is the modern undergraduate degree worth it?


The cost of higher education


It shouldn’t be surprising to anyone that the cost of a post-secondary education is astronomically expensive. So of course, we figure that if we shell out all this cash and work hard, we’ll be set on a path to success for the rest of our lives.

Statistics agree with that statement. Bachelor's degree holders do earn more money than someone who just holds a secondary school diploma in the long run. However, someone who started working straight out of high school doesn’t have to worry about student debt, and they also have four years of accumulated wealth compared to us university students.

An option that some grade 12’s overlook is trade schools. It has become a social norm for people to attend a university, but learning a trade or craft can provide an individual with just as many opportunities as a university graduate.

For example, a master craftsman or an experienced plumber can earn just as much, if not more, than an RN.

Of course, that being said, entering the workforce right after high school or going to trade school isn’t for everyone. Many people’s talents lay in “intellectually oriented” work such as engineering or the legal profession.

In cases like this, a student would probably excel more in a university than they would in a college. Because of this, a Bachelor’s degree would be worth it because it would be a necessary credential for them to have success in life.

If you’re not good at working with your hands and labor doesn’t appeal to you, a university degree suddenly becomes quite necessary.

So the question is asked, which university degrees would be best for obtaining a job after graduation? Of course, a Science degree pops into mind, particularly something specific such as nursing or engineering. The reason for this is that credential inflation hasn’t hit these fields as hard as others.

Credential inflation is the phenomenon of institutions requiring more advanced credentials and qualifications to hold a position. For example, a few decades ago, universities required professors of lower year classes to only hold a Master’s degree, now universities require practically all professors to hold PhDs.

That brings me another point: if you hold a BA, BBA, or even a BSc, depending on your major, expect credential inflation to affect you, and be prepared to pursue higher education in a Master’s or PhD program.

Why would a company hire you if you hold a BBA in management when another candidate holds an MBA?

In order to be competitive in the job market, often an undergraduate degree just isn’t enough today. In short, yes, an undergrad is worth the price, but only because it prepares you and puts you on the path for a higher degree.

Rising tuition is a deterrent for many considering a university degree, with many thinking things like, “How will I pay it back?” or “Will it even guarantee me a job?” While it may not guarantee a job, it will provide you with a leg up.

An extra $3,000 now shouldn’t dissuade you from $750,000 over the course of your working life.

All in all, I do think an undergraduate degree is worth it. It may be expensive, and credential inflation may have undervalued it, however it gives people the necessary building blocks for success in their given field. Those student loans can get paid back, once you have your degree and ring in hand.