What Is Your College Degree Worth?

Academics debate North Carolina governor says The Wall Street Journal.

The Issue? What is the value of an education?  The debate feels like a riot at a European soccer match.  Lots of people have an opinion on the subject.   Buzz Today  Source: The Wall Street Journal Students can get a minor in “Social and Economic Justice” without ever taking a course in the economics department (at UNC – Chapel Hill). Businesses aren’t lining up to hire them. U. S. colleges and universities aren’t immune from criticism.  .

The real issue is who gets to decide what is valuable to you?  The answer is you do. Value to you starts and ends with you.   Value depends on “who you are”. “Who you are” is something I explore in great depth in “Your Future is Calling”.

To create value you have to make good choices.  This is true whether the value is your personal value or what employers are willing to pay you. If you want to study whatever, you are free to do so.

The rub is between things you value and what the rest of society values.  If the two align you are blessed to be able to do what is valuable to you and get paid for it.  This result is ideal.  If they don’t align, you can still be happy, but if society doesn’t want what you learn you don’t get paid for it (no job) or get paid very little.

Professors are little help.  They are subject matter experts.  They know a lot about their subject.  They hope you like their subject too so that they have a job.  The unfortunate truth is that most know little about who you are, especially if you are an adult learner.  They know less than you think about the over 950 careers listed by the Department of Labor on O*Net.

The bottom line is that you well may value subjects in school that have little economic value in today’s global economy.  If that is what you value, more power to you.  The problem is in the expectations – both yours and others.

So even though you may hold a diploma with your name on it from an Elite American University, it is no guarantee of value to either you or potential employers.   Value is first about your knowing who you are, then learning what society is willing to pay for.

In the end the best outcome for you does not depend on the debate between the governor and the professors.  Real value is for you to decide.  But decide you must.

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