Census report reveals education milestone
February 24th, 2012
02:37 PM ET

Census report reveals education milestone

By Donna Krache, CNN

(CNN) - In March 2011, for the first time ever, more than 30% of adults older than 25 had a college degree, according to information released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.  As recently as 1998, less than one-quarter of Americans older than 25 held a degree.

The findings are published in a new report, "Educational Attainment in the United States: 2011." This was one in a series of educational reports released today.

“This is an important milestone in our history,” Census Bureau Director Robert Groves said. “For many people, education is a sure path to a prosperous life. The more education people have the more likely they are to have a job and earn more money, particularly for individuals who hold a bachelor's degree.”

The Census Bureau also published "Educational Attainment in the United States: 2009." This report reveals that in 2009, 85% of adults age 25 or older had at least a high school diploma or its equivalent. It also states that workers with a bachelor’s degree had median earnings of $47,510, about $20,000 more than workers with a high school diploma, who earned about $26,776, and nearly $25,000 more than those with a GED, who earned $22,534.

The other available reports are:

The "Field of Bachelor’s Degree in the United States: 2009" which provides information on different majors and geographic and earnings data across those fields and "What It’s Worth: Field of Training and Economic Status in 2009," which looks at the relationship between educational attainment, field of training and eventual occupation and earnings.

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Filed under: After High School • College • Issues • Practice
soundoff (242 Responses)
  1. Asher

    that is...good?

    February 27, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
  2. imho1234

    LIke most things in life, going to college is a decision that should not be taken lightly. Those who argue college is not the way to go have select experiences that support that choice and those who went to college have experiences supporting that decision.

    What is missing from many "higher education" discussions are the tradeoffs – financially, experientially, socially, etc. People can argue all day long about which route is better, but the fact is, college can be an expensive investment and is very expensive for most. As a society, we need to move away from the idea or expectation that there is a formula to success. That all investments will pay off exponentially without some forethought, hard work, vigilance, and a whole lot of luck (cough cough, housing market... stock market).

    Like many things, college is money. And NO ONE is your friend when it comes to money.

    February 27, 2012 at 9:37 am |

    @ 1 SIZE

    That's true but that's beside the point! President Obama didn't say that every American child SHOULD go to college! What he said is that every American child should have the OPPORTUNITY to go to college! That is if he or she wishes to go to college! But the bigoted redneck Santurum had to stretch what the President said to appease to his trailer trash audience!

    February 27, 2012 at 8:44 am |
    • Aaron

      O, hush already

      February 27, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  4. 1 size doesn't fit all

    Someone several posts back quoted the famous line from Caddyshack that basically says, “the world needs ditch diggers too”. That may sound harsh but it’s the truth. Trying to herd everyone into college is a waste of time and money. Some people, a lot of people, just don’t have what it takes to finish. They may have learning disabilities or a number of issues that holds them back. Some can’t even master the most remedial courses, but it’s not through a lack of effort.

    And someone else referenced the access to free college education in Europe. Well, guess what. Not everyone in Europe has a degree. In fact, a lot of people don’t. But they are better educated because they don’t have a “one size fits all” model like we do. They recognize that not everyone is meant to be a doctor or scientist or teacher or whatever. Our whole system needs a major overhaul.

    February 27, 2012 at 7:51 am |
    • CanYouDigIt

      So true. I still believe kids should give college a shot. There's a lot of cool info to be gleaned. However, if it doesn't fit, then the pursuit of a "bent" is quite worthwhile. I didn't finish college, but found work that suited my skills and personality, and I retired comfortably!

      February 27, 2012 at 8:51 am |

    Yesterday I was watching an interview with Rick Santurum on NBC's Meet the Press regarding President Obama's stipulation that every American should be able to have access to a college education. And I was totally appaled when Santurum disrespected President Obama by referring to him as "some college professor trying to shove an education down your throat." Furthermore, Santurum's disrespect for President Obama is so outrageous that he referred to the President as Barack Obama while referring to Mitt Romney as Governor Romney seven times. My message to Santurum is you're a stinking blatant bigot and a racist and you will never become POTUS because America is not willing to return to the Jim Crow era of the 1950's. You racist scu*mbag!

    February 27, 2012 at 7:28 am |
    • Jorge

      The only reason a Rick Santorum can get the time of day today is that the collective mind of the American public has gone soft. There used to be a day when the U.S. was an economically and socially powerful, healthy country where skilled blue-collar workers from all backgrounds could make a decent living, where folks asked all the right questions out of common sense and where a @#^%$ horse-trader like Santorum would have been eaten alive.

      February 27, 2012 at 8:21 am |
    • Richard Eugene

      You might want to run a spell check and a grammar check on your messages before you post. You wouldn't sound quite so much like the typical rascist libtard.

      February 27, 2012 at 9:30 am |
      • Iam Knot

        Um, that's "racist libtard" not "rascist libtard." Unless you mispelled the word intentionally to reflect the inherent mean-spiritedness of the American liberal.

        February 27, 2012 at 9:33 am |
  6. Liam

    the point of college is to learn, not to get a job. That is just a biproduct.

    February 27, 2012 at 6:28 am |
    • JDT

      I couldn't disagree more... learning can takie place in any place at any time. But, it doesn't matter how smart you are if you don't have that paper (college degree) that, basically, states you can make a commitment to something and follow it through to the end. That is the value of a college degree, without it, you have no good job prospects.

      February 27, 2012 at 6:42 am |
      • JustSayNotoCollege

        So, I should go to college just to prove that I can do it, or to prove to someone else that I can stick to something? College does not teach work ethic. Give me a broom and I'll prove that I can stick to something long enough to get the floor clean. THAT's work ethic.

        February 27, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • x3zy

      That really doesn't justify the outrageous costs of going to college. An individual should pay thousands and thousands of dollars and be in dept for the rest of their life, followed by a job that pays menial wages....just so they can learn something? An individual can go to the library and pick up a few books for free if they want to learn something.

      February 27, 2012 at 7:26 am |
    • CanYouDigIt

      I completely agree. The wealthiest people I know personally (all multi-millionaires) did not even set foot in a college. One dropped out of high school. These people were focussed and determined and knew what they wanted and how to get it. College would have simply held them back. They may not know Cervantes or Shakespeare, don't know a polynomial from a polyp, but found their niche and settled in for the long ride. My brother retired at age 40, went to college ONE quarter and dropped out because they could not teach him what he wanted to know. College is NOT necessarily a job resume.

      February 27, 2012 at 9:00 am |
  7. woodrow

    I propose that income is not dictated by education but by personal drive and initiative of the individual. A person with initiative will go to college. So college is an effect and not a cause of higher income levels.

    February 27, 2012 at 6:03 am |
    • JustSayNotoCollege

      Personal drive may keep you OUT of college! If you know what you want and how to get it, and it doesn't involve college, I'd say that person has drive!

      February 27, 2012 at 9:02 am |
  8. AstroD

    I've got three degrees including a doctorate in a STEM field from a Top 50 school. While working in my field, I've been earning less than the typical person with a bachelor degree (less than $47,510) for several years now. More formal education does not necessarily mean higher income.

    February 27, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • RetiredATC

      Disconcerting. I dropped out of college, went to work for the FAA as an air traffic controller. My top salary was over $170K, and my retirement income is $97K. No college degree. It's very disconcerting that someone like you will spend lots of time, energy, and money on a higher education and not be rewarded like your educators said you would. It WILL pay off for you in time, I'm sure. Congratulations for your accomplishments!

      February 27, 2012 at 9:09 am |
      • AstroD

        Thanks, @RetiredATC. I highly respect your field, and I think your salary was well-deserved. I wish you the best in retirement.

        February 27, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
  9. Kitty

    Not surprising when if you are over 18 (and thus get paid full minimum wage by law) you need at least a associates to get a cashier job.
    Most students end up in debt up to thier heads and never pay it of or default, but they have no choice since few hire without a degree.

    I personally plan on using my degree to start a small business, even if it is not a business degree because otherwise I may not get hired.
    As for those who ask about military education, in my case I can't go into the military(even the NAVY and I wanted to go into that as a kid) due to scholiosis (my spine is actually curved wierdly making it impossible for me to do situps) Flat Feet(though thanks to a russian ballet teacher I had in my childhood I compensate by walking primarily on my toes) and a severe hormone deficiency disorder that if I could not get my pills would kill me.
    Not to mention my height, so yes some of us despite wanting to can't get that military skill set.

    But on topic, thing is the degrees don't matter anymore, only looks do.

    February 26, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • JustSayNotoCollege

      I'm not sure why you need a college degree to start a small business, unless your business is to provide a college with professors. I say, "Go for it!" Start that business and work hard at it! If you need some sort of business-related course, go to your local technical school and learn a computer language or accounting process. (I realize that I don't know anything about your business, so I'm speaking off-the-cuff.)

      February 27, 2012 at 9:13 am |
  10. Vinny

    Santorum just mentioned on "Meet the Press" how he is anti federal education program and no need to encourage people to go to college. Leave the education to the local? We are a country. Some colleges are already easier than others. The rich areas are going to have better facilities. All he wants is to create classicism.

    February 26, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
  11. Ron

    I went back to school at 35 and am a few months away from a BA and one year away from a MA, this will put me in the top 8% in my area. It's amazing all of those people who are anti-education, their kids will be the ones that get left out in the cold. The places that say you are 'over qualified' are just scared for their own jobs b/c you are more qualified than they are.

    February 26, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • x3zy

      That's the point. I am not anti-education but what is the point of going to college if someone doesn't want to hire you because they think your are over-qualified, too old and will retire soon, or some other idiotic excuse. I used to be very pro-college but not anymore. I think it is nothing more then a rip-off and I can tell you that in most region where I live (the Southern States) that a college degree isn't even respected.

      February 26, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
      • chuckster

        Yeah, well, given the general level of intelligence that prevails in the South, that's no big announcement. Lincoln should have let the South secede. ..the average US IQ would be 30 points higher today, teen pregnancy and SATD rates would be lower and the average number of teeth in an American mouth would increase by ten.

        February 26, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
      • James

        Why am I not surprised to hear an education means nothing in the South.

        February 26, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
      • Vinny

        I used to study in South Carolina, specifically Clemson Univ. I can tell you the education quality is a lot lower than where I got my degree. If you want an easy degree, go to the South!

        February 26, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
      • x3zy

        I hate to brake this to you people who are knocking the South but I went to college at Ohio State and Penn State and I don't think the quality of life, educational level or level of class and intelligence is much better then in the Northern states. Education meant nothing there either. Those universities were the same useless football colleges as Clemson is. Another thing I have noticed is that tons of people from the North are moving down to the South. I live in a suburb of the Dallas Ft Worth area and thousands of people from the left and right coast are moving here every year. I wasn't implying that people here aren't educated; I was implying the opposite. So many people here have college degrees it seems you cant even work in a simple supervisory job unless you have an education. Even a few police departments here require you to have a degree or you can't even work as an animal control officer unless you have an associates. It just seems pathetic. Having many people in our population receive a higher education certainly doesn't seem to have improved the lives or financial and economic mobility of people.

        February 26, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
      • JustSayNotoCollege

        The chuckster obviously didn't learn anything in elementary school, except how to bully people. Maybe if some southern college will allow his low IQ to enter, he'll learn manners and intelligent thought.

        February 27, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • Mike

      Sorry Ron, it's still the same as it has always been. Have you ever heard the saying its who you know not what you know?

      February 27, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • Jorge

      Ron, I came to work to Augusta, GA and bought a house in the area because of the weather and change from the Northern urban sprawl. BIG MISTAKE, I see now how some parts of the South are perpetually stuck in a merry-go-round rictus of racial, social and economic obstructionism and the singing of self-praise for virtues (such as hospitality, spirituality and straightforwardness), in which they are sorely lacking. Not all parts of the South are like this, though (Charleston comes to mind), probably just those still stuck in the mindset of good-ole'-boy cronyism and Jim Crow.

      February 27, 2012 at 8:42 am |
  12. Scotty

    Wow, only $47k/year with a degree? I didn't go to college; I joined the Navy, mastered a skill that applies to the civilian world, and now I'm 26 and made $90k last year, and should easily top $100k next year. Plus, no student loans (I got paid to learn) and I had the privelege of serving my country. I'm not saying people shouldn't go to college, or that college isn't a good choice, just that college isn't the only path to success.

    February 26, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • Richard

      I agree, and don't understand why more don't take advantage of the educational opportunities of the military. I went into the Air Force and got some high tech training that led to a great carreer. I've made over $100K for the last fifteen years and have never been unemployeed. That being said, I recently went back to school and need one more class for my associates degree completion. I don't really need the degree any more, but learning should be looked at as a life long process.

      February 26, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • Lu

      Your "success" comes at a cost. It costs innocent people abroad their lives.

      February 26, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • x3zy

      What is your field in? I am curious. I don't know of anyone who has come out of the military after 4 or 6 years and become a success story. When I was a youngster, all I wanted to do was go in the military. I tried to do so when I graduated from college but every recruiter that I talked to, including the ones in the guard and reserves, lied right to my face about everything so I gave it up. I often wish I did go in anyway because I know a few of people who retired from the military and live comfortably on their retirement but that is it. Other then people who retired from the military, I don't know of anyone who was in it for a few years and didn't think of it as more then a waste of time except for a VA loan or by using the GI bill for college. I even heard on NPR a few weeks ago that many people who are fresh out of the military are finding it difficult to get a job because so many of their skills can't make a transition into civilian skills. Military terms, logic and procedures are much different from what they are in civilian rules it said. Please correct my information if I am wrong because I would generally like to hear your story. I went to college and have nothing to show for it except more dept.

      February 26, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
      • iibyc

        I can almost guarantee it is nuclear power. His numbers are accurate if it is. You have to be willing to work rotating shift work, and most people don't wan't to.

        February 27, 2012 at 3:55 am |
    • James

      I think most people have been trying to make this point, I don't understand why this has to keep being reiterated over across this whole comments section. College doesn't guarantee you success, it can offer you a door opener, but not a guarantee. Still though, some of the bashing of education on this site is borderline ridiculous. The people disrespecting philosophy might be shocked to realize our legal system is based off of a host of Western philosophies that developed over many years, it says something when a country's people have a completely skewed idea of how important an education and the various liberal arts are. The bashers are caught up in this idea that all colleges are too expensive and the degree means nothing.

      February 26, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • AstroD

      Not everyone is qualified to enter the military, e.g., failed physical through no fault of their own (hereditary affliction).

      February 27, 2012 at 12:28 am |
  13. Tyler

    What kind of degree? 2 year community college degree? Tthose are included... while it is not a bad thing, it's just not the same. 30% of the U.S. population does not have a 4 year College degree. Something one has to realize when reading this.

    February 26, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  14. bob

    An American Bachelor's degree is the new high school diploma.

    February 26, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  15. Christopher

    Some people are going to find college education extremely helpful. Others won't. It's that's simple.

    February 26, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  16. Don

    The one thing you can be certain of when you see more adults with a degree is it is bad news for the GOP. Sociological studies show that the more educated one becomes the less you hold onto conservative views. You become more open minded to new ideas and you do not hold so fearfully to what you believed in the past. This trend is even more widely pronounced when those with a degree have taken any of the social issues classes as one sees what is wrong with holding to old views and not progressing to a new and better future. This goes with another trend being seen as well. There are getting to be fewer and fewer people who hold to conservative ways and thus less and less republicans. Yes, I know there are those with a degree who are still conservative and republican but when you look at the percentages versus non college degree individuals you can see the trend very clearly. I feel this is a sign already being seen and felt in the GOP even as we speak as it seems they are getting so desperate to control somehow thinking they can change the course of history, when in fact it is not the failure of the GOP while in office so much anymore as it is just a total failure of conservative views with a higher degree of education. Conservative views and higher education tend to go in opposite dirctions. This is not a worry for me as it is so much for the GOP because personally being a student of sociology I see so many way this country can be bettered if we can get beyond the conservative views that hold us back and cause us to regress. The US as well as the world will be much better off withoout so much conservative influence. You ever wonder why Europe is more liberal than the US, it is because most European countries are already much more educated than the US especially in social issues.

    February 26, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
    • Christopher

      I disagree. I'm a liberal and a democrat but this is just ridiculous.There are many poor uneducated democrats in this country and many well educated republicans who identify themselves as conservatives. We have to get beyond this kind of partisanship. It's damaging out nation's sense of unity, pride and self-image.

      February 26, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
      • john doe

        There have actually been legitimate studies indicating that those with lower IQ levels tend to have conservative viewpoints. Look it up....

        February 26, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • iheartpoliticalscience

      Please tell me where you found the research you use to back up your claims. I'm having a difficult time tracking down research surrounding correlations between level of education attained and partisanship. Gallup? WVS? Pew?

      February 26, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
      • iheartpoliticalscience

        And what do you mean by conservative???? Socially conservative and fiscally conservative? both? This whole painting of a half the voting population as one block makes me nervous. The world doesn't function in black and white. Republicans like democrats can't be tightly fit snug into a nice little neat category. Don't by into the decisive politciking. Think critically.

        February 26, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
      • Ron

        It is a FACT that conservative regions have poor education and much lower incomes, I did a 10+ page research paper on this exact topic using factual statistical databases. Knock on all the multi-million dollar homes in California or New York, most have advanced degrees.

        February 26, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • Vinny

      That is true. A lot of communist countries, such as China, don't emphasize education. Educated people are harder to control. That is why China "export" graduate students because they don't want the educated stay. When you are less educated, you have less options and you are more likely to obey. Most of the evolutionists are educated. Just looking at out founding fathers. They were all elites and educated.

      February 26, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
    • Roger

      The bible and various other religious doctrines throughout the world's history were designed to sum up a few of the most relevant social issues for a population that was largely illiterate and thus incapable of thinking for themselves. Nowadays with illiteracy rates being much lower than they once were, religion is an anachronism.

      February 26, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
  17. smarkos

    Aside from a few fields, a college degree is only needed for those who want to work for somebody else. I have a degree, but have always worked for myself. Nobody has ever even seen my diploma. In fact, what I now do didn't even exist when I went to college. Everything has been self taught.

    I also have to laugh at the people who say everyone needs a college education. If everyone had a college eduction, there would be no value in it as far as getting a job goes. A college eduction would be no more valuable than a high school eduction is today. It only has a value now because so few people have one.

    As Judge Smails once said, "The world need ditch diggers too, you know."

    February 26, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Ron

      I agree, that's why the Tea Partiers can stay uneducated by choice which will make my Masters even more valuable...I might even higher them if they are well mannered.

      February 26, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
      • Ruthie

        That's "hire." I guess that master's wasn't in English.

        February 27, 2012 at 9:39 am |
  18. Trent

    Now if only there were jobs for them.....

    February 26, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Vinny

      Have a college degree doesn't guarantee a job. It is just life. Just because you are a man doesn't guarantee you will have a girlfriend. History and gender studies majors are going to have a harder time to find jobs than nursing majors.

      February 26, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
  19. Jefferson Darcy

    Awarding in state tuition to illegal aliens is fiscally irresponsible and patently unfair.
    Push your state representative to make a change. Google this: NUMBERSUSA .
    Once you are registered, go to the "action board" to send free faxes to you state representative .
    They are all typed up and ready to go, you just need to click your mouse to send.

    February 26, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  20. 29yearsNoDegree

    i'm sure somebody has already pointed this out, but the fact that more adults have a degree only means that there are more over-qualified people not able to find jobs that fit the projection of what they thought their degree would do for them. far more impressive is the number of people with student loan debt and no sufficient income to pay those debts back, not to mention the luke-warm life experience most college grads realize they have had without any real-world perspective to balance out the ideas that are brainwashed to us from our first day in kindergarten about 'the american dream'... to say that feeding into the higher education system is your 'sure path to a prosperous life' is like saying you're helping the victims of sweatshops by shopping at walmart. .. this whole thing is a scam, and while i have no degree to back these opinions, i do have enough street smarts to acknowledge success comes perserverance and genuine willingness to work, as well as from the heart, something this nation has all but lost in the pursuit of financial security and material gratification... i am so grateful i am not one of the 'largest percentage of adults with a degree' in this age of realizing those degrees mean little to nothing and amidst our '$' being worth less and less, basic survival skills are what will actually ensure your livelihood and prosperity...

    February 26, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  21. Scott

    The push for everyone to have degrees doesn't bring back manual or manufacturing jobs, now does it? Just money into the pseudo elite uniiversities.

    February 26, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  22. tokencode

    Many degree programs and colleges are finally being viewed as the long-term pyramid scam that they are. If one of the primary jobs with your degree is teaching that degree, you have a problem. Those who can do, do, those who can't teach.

    February 26, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • spent

      Oh really. And what drew you to your intellectual discourse? You are a very insightful person, I guess my career amounted not to much for that is all that I could do, was teach at the University and high school level. Thank you for your insight, you are so very wise in your perceptions.

      February 26, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Jennifer Blank

      I am teacher and adjunct college professor. Teaching, when its done right, is NOT easy.

      Our central problem is that we do not value learning; we value making more money. When you take the motivation to learn out of the process, the creative problem solving skills that this country desperately need go out the door. Getting a degree just to say "I have a degree" is worthless, but knowledge is power. Don't get me wrong, I like money just as much as anyone, but if that is one'e sole motive life will not be very satisfying.

      Although I will be the first to admit the existence of bad teachers and stupid people with college degrees, if one takes advantage of the skills taught in college, your prospects are infinitely better than if you had not embarked on the path to higher education, both personally and professionally.

      Our other problem is that good, tough, and smart teachers have to dumb both themselves and their classes down because people don't want to work hard to learn. Parents, students, administrators, and yes even teachers make excuses for people who cannot/will not do what it takes to meet basic expectations.

      Please stop bashing my vocation; you don't know the first thing about what I do and how I do it.

      I challenge you to hack it for one week in a classroom, you will find that teaching is not as easy as it sounds. I'm in the trenches everyday with my kids trying to help them make their lives better. What the hell have YOU done for humanity lately??

      February 26, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
  23. spent

    The only degree that really matters is 98.6.

    February 26, 2012 at 11:51 am |
  24. Carl Bennett

    A college education is neither necessary nor sufficient for competence. If one is competent, and has no college degree, they should make no apology. If they have a college degree, and are not competent, that is a shame. College does provide one exposure to a vast array of ideas and knowledge, generally while one's brain is still 'plastic', rather than over a life time, or perhaps never. Thus, in my view, college is a short cut to a mature understanding of our world that otherwise many may never attain.

    February 26, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • jgg

      Ok first of all,cut it out,the bs i mean. Your language is not impressing anyone here,nor is it making you sound any smarter. It only makes you sound pseudo-smart. I will agree with you on one thing though, a college degree doesnt maje you

      February 26, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • JGG

      I really hate typing on my phone, anyway, I do agree with your statement that a college degree doesn't make you smart, but I don't care how competent a person is, he or she should never get picked over and educated person for a damn job that requires a degree of higher learning. Even a competent person with no degree will make mistakes when they are put in positions that hold a lot of responsibility, the lack of ethics courses and or business courses will eventually be a weakness for one that is promoted to a top position within a company.

      February 26, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • JustSayNotoCollege

      Exactly. College education does not guarantee work ethic or manners.

      February 27, 2012 at 9:28 am |
  25. JGG

    I am dissapointed by our education system. First of all if you go to any school in Texas you see posters all over the school that say "how much you can expect to earn" and illustrates average salaries from highschool diplomas , associate's degreees, all the way to doctorate's degrees. Ok, look I was expelled from school in the 90's; but I was defiantly resiliant, even when my own teachers told me I was not going to amount to anything I proved them wrong and I got my GED, three years later I earned my A.A.S degree in Electronic Engineering, and then another 4 years later I earned a B.S degree in Technical Management. I went to work for the same school districts that I attended, and did very good work as a technician. And what do they do? they keep passing me up for promotions. They hire unqualified individuals for jobs that I am qualified to do. Here in San Antonio you can be a director or assistant director in any school district maintenance departments with only a high school diploma and a few years working out in the field. School districts in Texas are full of it!!!! I have multiple degreees and I am stuck at the same yearly salary of about $35,000.00 for the past 7 years. Also, I am stuck with a $50,000. bill that I am expected to pay for a piece of paper that was supposed to be my key to open many doors of opportunity.School districts in Texas are hippocrates!

    February 26, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • Mimi


      An education is only a key to opening doors. However, you must also demonstrate you are utiizing that education in order to get in the door.

      Your post may be an insight into the reason you are being passed over– it was riddled with typographical errors. You may wish to look at your resume and applications to see if they contain typos.

      I am a manager and look at hundreds of resumes whenever my company has a vacant position. My feeling is that someone with typos on their resume does not care enough to present their best work when trying to get the job, and that laziness/inattention to detail will carry over into their actual work product.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:36 am |
      • JGG

        Excuse me ,but I wrote this stuff on my cell phone...the buttons are to small, and how dare you even pass judgement on me when you don't even know me.This isn't exactly important to me any way, I only commented on this story because I read it while browsing the internet on my phone, I had nothing else better to do with my time.

        February 26, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
      • Christopher

        I doubt you are as successful as you claim to be. I mean you're spending your free time just like everyone else chatting online. lol

        February 26, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
      • JustSayNotoCollege

        I agree with Mimi. The only way to "pass judgment" on someone looking for a job is via the resume and interview. If they can't spell or use proper grammar, I am left to make the same assumption that Mimi makes. The written language is becoming a lost art, sad to say.

        February 27, 2012 at 9:48 am |
  26. Ed R

    The statistic may have more to do with the explosive growth of after-hours/no hours diploma mills churning out BAs/MAs/PhDs than with any real growth in the level of educational attainment. It is impossible to believe in this statistic in the face of serious declines in the quality of education and lack of preparedness in the nation's elementary and secondary schools.

    February 26, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  27. hanelse

    The most impressive degree in the world isn't worth much if business continues to outsource or bring foreigners in because they're cheaper. Plan a degree to start a business. That's the only way we "unemployable" Americans will earn anything anymore.

    February 26, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • Ceardadh

      Education means much more than making money.

      February 26, 2012 at 9:42 am |
      • Ceardadh

        We are not born knowing how to think. Thinking has to be learned. We learn to evaluate information. We learn to recognize when we do not have enough information to evaluate an idea, a product, or a politician. We learn how to get information and to distinguish relevant information from irrelevant. We learn how to have an intelligent conversation. We learn how to think. The uneducated learn what to think, not how to think, and so they hardly think at all.

        February 26, 2012 at 9:56 am |
      • Ed

        I would give thinking capabilities to life experience, reasoning and wisdom, not education alone and those slipping through college with their middle to low averages or ethnic status. College isn't God, for some it's a path to get in the door for others a path to pretentiousness and arrogance.

        February 26, 2012 at 10:35 am |
  28. John

    There is a difference between education and intelligence.....many people fail to realize this. A degree simply means that you are teachable to a certain level....that's all that it means.

    February 26, 2012 at 8:20 am |
    • Bettina

      A degree, especially from a reasonably good school, is very imporant to employers in many professions since it gives them some confidence that the applicant has the FULL breadth of knowledge necessary for the job. Most otherwise intelligent people who I know that are self-taught learn only what they enjoy learning. They do not bother learning the more tedious aspects that are also necessary for particular careers. So, intelligence is not enough to succeed in a career. One also has to have diligence, motivation and generally a good work ethic. A college degree from the better schools shows employers that not only does the applicant have the breadth of knowledge necessary for the work, but that the applicant has proven his/her abilities to apply themselves diligently to a major effort – whether or not it was fun.

      February 26, 2012 at 8:49 am |
      • Ceardadh

        Thank you Bettina for reminding us of the value of education.

        February 26, 2012 at 10:02 am |
      • Martina

        "One also has to have diligence, motivation and generally a good work ethic." Bingo! Three traits that are learned with or without college. College expands ones thinking capabilities, but that isn't the end all, there are many college educated who
        are useless in the work force when what they need is diligence, motivation and a decent work ethic.

        February 26, 2012 at 10:42 am |
      • Ed C.

        There are movie actors and moguls with no college degrees at all who earn more than you ever will in a life time with several degrees. If the truth is known, there are many like them in other professions.

        February 26, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
      • Bettina

        Yes, one can succeed without any college degree and I do personally also know people who have. However, on average, it is a lot harder, which one can see by the statistics in the following link from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics ( http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm ).

        Again, averages are not absolutes. Someone who is driven has a fairly good chance of succeeding at whatever he/she does, but it takes dedication, hard work, and savy. Not everyone is capable or motivated enough to overcome those obstacles.

        February 26, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • Ceardadh

      Many people have opinions. Having opinions is not the same as thinking.

      February 26, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • Ceardadh

      Education and intelligence are not the same thing, though the educated tend to make more intelligent decisions.

      February 26, 2012 at 10:04 am |
  29. Search For Truth

    I never attended College. i am the only child in my family of 4 children who did not. i was blessed to be gifted in Sales and Marketing. i have always made more money then my educated siblings. Nothing wrong with a College degree, If you go into any field or endeavor be the best you can be educated or not...

    February 26, 2012 at 8:01 am |
  30. Joseph

    Unfortunately,Most were just sent there as a way to get to spoiled brats out of their nannies,and parents hair,And hopefully out of their house.

    February 26, 2012 at 7:40 am |
  31. studdmuffins

    Degrees. The new high school diploma. A very expensive hoax perpetuated on the American public. Most degrees are a waste of treasure better spent elsewhere. $60-120K for a liberal arts degree which can be cashed in for an entry level job at WalMart.

    Fact is most people do not use their easily earned degrees (all it takes is money). They squander thousands then end up doing something unrelated to their so-called major. Women especially end up wasting it because so many leave the workforce long before any annuity is realized or accrued.

    We're being hoodwinked into believing everyone should be more educated. In reality the entire system is broken because we've 'dumbed' down the standards at all levels.

    February 26, 2012 at 7:18 am |
  32. Mare

    im a clown

    February 26, 2012 at 6:04 am |
    • enoch100

      I like cookies.

      February 26, 2012 at 7:06 am |
    • Joe M

      You certainly are.

      February 26, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • Herne

      so am I..........Pandymoniums the name....well...I'm just gettin started ,..it's tough work actually.......clowns deserve more respect. We have hearts too....all gooey, warm and everything.

      February 26, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  33. Mare

    If 30% of us have college degrees, why are such a high percentage of commenters on this story unable to succinctly and insightfully comment here employing the basic tools of standard written English?

    February 26, 2012 at 2:28 am |
    • enoch100

      They are the 99%?

      February 26, 2012 at 7:07 am |
    • Katie

      Grammar isn't taught in school anymore. Neither is basic sentence structure, paragraph construction, or real essay writing. Once one of my kids came home with a spelling list to memorize and some of the words were incorrectly spelled. My seventh grader was told on day one of seventh grade that the class would be writing a formal research paper. He was given a list of deadlines – the thesis statement was due the third day of class. One hundred properly annotated note cards were due by the end of October. The first rough draft was due before Thanksgiving. At the top of that deadline list, in bold letters so there was no misunderstanding, students were informed that NO class time would be spent on this project, and that they were NOT allowed to ask for any help or they would be flunked both from the project and the social science class. I asked the teacher if she was going to TEACH the students how to do this paper and she said absolutely not, that the students were completely capable of figuring it out themselves and she warned me not to get involved.

      I held Saturday classes in my home and went over how to fill out a notecard, what a thesis statement was, and other related terms. The school librarian taught the kids how to do research. Another parent over saw the writing aspect. We made sure those kids LEARNED how to write a research paper, and we went to the principal to make sure they were properly graded for their efforts.

      February 26, 2012 at 8:08 am |
      • John

        I certainly hope that you took this issue to the local board of education to be resolved. Too many of our teachers have majored in education because they like the idea of summers off or, as one of my college classmates once told me, “if I can't make it in engineering or business I can always become a teacher”. School administrators and school boards need to actively weed these people out during the hiring process or before they make tenure. Schools of education also need to toughen up their standards and produce competent and knowledgeable teachers.

        February 26, 2012 at 8:27 am |
  34. whosurdaddy

    Its not just degrees, its what kind of degrees Americans get, too many people in USA holding useless garbage none productive degrees like arts,business,laws and social studies ect.....

    February 26, 2012 at 12:53 am |
    • Jupa

      I love how you get to police what other people value in their lives. FU

      February 26, 2012 at 1:13 am |
    • Mike

      I totally concur! The joke at my college is “Hi, I have a degree in Social Sciences, would you like fries with that?”

      February 26, 2012 at 5:52 am |
    • Bettina

      Many liberal arts degrees and professions certainly have value but the number of jobs available in these fields are very limited. I myself have a PhD in Applied Physics, which has opened doors to a reasonably lucrative and interesting career. However, along the way through all levels of my education, I have certainly appreciated the intellectual and emotional enrichment gained from the various courses I took in liberal arts and other directions which you consider useless. Such careers certainly have value. Unfortunately, far more students pursue such degrees than there are jobs for them to fill. That is why it is important for incoming students to choose majors not only based on their interests but also on the probability of their getting a job in their chosen field. Partly, it is the responsibility of teachers, parents, guidance councilors and others to give high school students honest assessments of their skills, so that these students don't waste their time pursuing careers that they have little chance of attaining. Not everyone is able to be a great artist, movie producer, TV news anchor, astronaut, ballerina, or sports star. One has to balance dreams with reality in choosing a career.

      As for the worth of getting a degree at all, it very much depends on the profession. Some professions require very little formal learning, where everything needed can be learned from experience. However, most well paying professions do require formal learning. Theoretically, one can be self taught in these areas. However, I find that most people who are self taught learn only what the want to learn – i.e. what they enjoy. They do not bother learning the more tedious but necessary aspects that are also required in a career. From an employers point of view, the possession of a degree, especially from a good school, gives the employer confidence that the applicant has the FULL breadth of knowledge necessary for the job.

      Lastly, many studies have shown clear correlations between educational level and average salaries. Education always has and always will be a ladder to success – especially in fields which are in-demand by employers.

      February 26, 2012 at 7:07 am |
  35. whosurdaddy

    Theres a degree called "Peace Study" from university, its not a joke I learn this from CNN.

    February 26, 2012 at 12:49 am |
  36. Tare

    Mr. Groves is a bureaucrat; he is obviously not qualified to interpret the data. I would point out that these statistics do not reflect todays' reality because they include only people who got their degrees yesterday! Today, the high cost of education and the poor economy negate the advantages of yesterdays graduates: 1.) Many people graduate with debt that they will never be able to pay back even with a decent job, or spend decades to do so, and hence they are not necessarily better off; and certainly not as well off as those already working, for whom the statistics DO apply. 2.) Many who are graduating with BS's, who are supposed to be better off as he so ironically claims, can not compete with those with job experience, because of the economy. BS's, unlike PHD's, frequently do not have any job experience and can only enter the job market when companies can afford the training they need. In fact, even AS's usually have more job experience than BS's because of the nature of their degrees. Hence, his claim about BS's is BS!

    February 25, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • Ed

      Your common sense and lack of snobbery surpasses the finest Ph.D.. There was a time higher education was mostly for the wealthy or the super brain of a less affluent who waited tables for their betters as a way to pay for their education. Otherwise many of the best students went off to work and often did quite well gaining experience and work ethics. Now days like golf, anyone can get an education, smart or not, talented or not. Remember when golf was only for the socially elite? There are now people in every economic strata playing golf, same with college. I have worked in offices where usless employees with high degrees, holding down CEO positions were noting but dead wood and office jokes.

      February 26, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  37. Bigfoot

    I've never participated in the census.

    February 25, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • g

      they came to my door. i told them to go away.

      February 25, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
    • SurRy

      Too busy going over your rations in your basement, huh?

      February 26, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
  38. fred

    Population growing, computers doing most of the the work means not enough jobs for all the people. The answer? Well, I'll give you a clue – it isn't giving out degrees in Tourism and Political Science.

    February 25, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
  39. MRZ

    Australia desperatey needs engineers, accountants, IT professionals, etc. This country has a higher standard of living than the U.S,,wnich comes in twelfth amongst tnhe world' nations. Put your hard earned degree to good use in the 'land down under' by contacting the Australian embassy. At present, the Australian government, because of their booming economy trading with China, is actively recruiting manpower in France and Italy. Many Irish youth have emigrated as well. Seriously consider joining them.


    February 25, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • Sam

      I rather be unemployed and starving than submit to any monarch save Jesus the Christ. Don't get me wrong, your queen sounds great, but there is something inherently wrong with obtaining power based on birth alone.

      February 26, 2012 at 12:54 am |
      • Zachary

        Didn't Jesus obtain power by birth alone?

        February 26, 2012 at 1:28 pm |


    February 25, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
  41. KBR

    And who is more important to the maintenance of civilization, the high priced lawyer or the guy who picks up your garbage once a week?

    February 25, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
  42. Tonyp

    More people with degrees = devalued degrees.

    This is caused by all those for-profit diploma mills like Westwood College, U of Pheonix, etc.

    February 25, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
  43. Thatwave

    Sure more people have degrees, but too bad having a degree doesn't have anything to do with intelligence or competence.

    February 25, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
  44. James

    Just noting how condescending most comments are on here. I think the general population is aware that many technical/trade jobs are available that offer fair wages for the work. At the same time, I hope the people who are attacking college degrees should accept that many careers do require education, and for some careers you don't really need the degree for the content of it so much as a way to get in on a resume. This reflects that employers want some form of credential to weigh the applicants for a position. Until this is no longer the norm, those who are seeking degrees before joining (Or after) the work force have justification to do so, especially if they can get a degree for a low tuition. This can change if the business community itself changes, as a personal anecdote I have friends who are definitely more qualified to hold certain positions, and they have watched their jobs go to college students even though they have several years of experience before they became unemployed. We need to change this, and those who are complaining about students going for degrees are really complaining about a larger more systemic problem.

    I would also like to challenge the notion that bachelor's degrees hold less value in terms of education than they have in the past. This is really a cherry-picking argument, because there are schools that are bad and are passing off degrees without really challenging and educating their students, but this is not as broad as many here believe it is. Having gone on to the same career as my family members, I was able to actually see how much has changed, and while I can only attest for myself, my education was significantly different, but also more difficult than my relatives. The choice of school then should be the criteria upon which to judge quality, and painting with a broad brush is actually damaging those whose educations are above par, because it devalues the degrees that some individual might hold. Please keep these things in mind.

    I would also like to add, in defense of liberal arts education, that if you have ever tried to blow glass and make laboratory equipment, or participated in that field, you would realize the difficulty of that career. To get the right inner and outer diameter, to mix the frit to achieve the right properties in the glass, and actually shaping and annealing the glass to achieve the end product. These are very difficult, and yet I see this career being offered under Liberal Arts. So for those trying to score "political points" by knocking liberal arts as not being productive or rewarding, I would keep your comments in check.

    February 25, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Steve- Illinois

      There's such a high demand for glass blowers!!!

      You made the majority of commentors point perfectly!

      February 26, 2012 at 8:36 am |
      • James

        You beg the question, should then everyone just funnel into STEM fields in the hope that they will get a job? Diversity is necessary, if everyone goes for degrees in a narrow set of fields there may be no jobs for them, or the wages will quickly fall for jobs that require the same subset of skills. How many jobs do you think require a degree in chemistry or biotechnology? Despite those being bachelors of science they do not lead into fields in demand, the industrial chemical industry isn't looking for a lot of new chemists, and in this down turn even those seeking employment in the pharmaceutical industry will also have difficulty obtaining a job. The only difference is that most people have a perspective that Liberal Arts has no demand, this doesn't equate to the truth. Your assumption is that other fields will be more fruitful, I'm trying to assert there are possibilities everywhere that should be taken where they can. If you want to ignorantly and adamantly maintain L.A.'s has no use to the world, feel free. There will be no debating with ignorance.

        February 26, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  45. Jeremy

    I have three degrees, all from excellent schools. I may soon embark on a fourth one. I do it not to 'raise my bottom line' but because I simply enjoy the love of learning. It doesn't make me any smarter, either. Just opens doors that previously I didn't know where there. If you want to be smart, start thinking for yourself. Some of the most intelligent people I've ever met didn't get on past high school, and they were full of absolutely brilliant insight. If you want to get rich, work hard. This is a country that is set up to reward ingenuity and elbow grease, not how many degrees you have or where they came from.

    February 25, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  46. superplus

    Those adults with college degrees should go back to school and learn how to speak, read, and write the Chinese language if they want a job.

    February 25, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  47. C. Sheen

    I have 98.6 of them

    February 25, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • darmon

      that just means there's alot of studen loans needing to be paid out there. and if these students don't get a job to pay them off... will the government bail them out too?

      February 25, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
      • g

        the gov should, the best way to spur the economy is to forgive all student debt.

        February 25, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
      • Steve- Illinois

        Forgiving student debt makes no sense! The problem in this country is we do not hold people accountable for their own decisions! As long as we continue to reward poor decisions, and penalize the responsible people, we will continue on our downhill slide!

        February 26, 2012 at 8:39 am |
  48. bob

    University of Phoenix doesn't count.

    February 25, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Funk13

      and what's wrong with University of Phoenix?

      February 25, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
      • mcmillian

        University of Phoenix doesn't count because it is a diploma mill. It gives bachelor's degrees out to anyone willing to pay 40,000 dollars.

        February 25, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
      • fdfd

        because its a for profit school, meaning people will community college degree will be hired over you

        February 25, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
    • WillieD

      I am going to have to agree with you on that one Bob.....and Y'all can add DeVry, ITT, and Concordia University to the list of "universities that don't count.. Sadly there are too many to name out there.

      February 26, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  49. Bryan

    I can't believe the number is that low....I know maybe 3-4 people without a degree. I agree with many posters...the B.A. is nothing special anymore....advanced degrees are the new B.A.

    February 25, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • steve

      makes sense, people with degrees tend to socialize with others with degrees.

      February 25, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
  50. ex-engineer

    The problem is to many useless degrees that won't get you a job. Like Liberal arts or in my case Engineering. Who want’s an expensive american engineer when we import hundreds of thousand of cheap indentured servants under wage arbitration visas? I should have gotten an MBA, less work, get to party in college instead of studying all the time and when you graduate your the boss of all those peon engineers. Now I'm 40 which is 5 years past the mandatory retirement age for engineers. in the US. and unemployed. According to The CEO of TATA(one of the Big Indian body-shops that replace american workers with cheap imported labor) said that Americans are "Unemployable". Thank god our government gave them massive tax breaks.

    February 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Thatwave

      The liberal arts aren't useless; they are undervalued. Since you were able to type your post with decent grammar, you might want to reconsider your belief that liberal arts are useless.

      February 25, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
      • ex-engineer

        I was really really drunk when I wrote that posting. It was the first time in many years but I just trained my H-1B cheap labor replacement and I had to go home to my family and tell my blind mother I couldn't afford her operation(no joke). Anyway, I figured some anal retentive jerk would post something like that. This isn't my resume, it's a quickly typed in response in a blog, if the best response you can come up with is a critique of my editing skills you must have a liberal arts degree. Perhaps you can help me, as your so smart. I was working on an AI project the other day in my spare time, can you please write me some code for discrete Fourier transforms in C or C++ would be fine.

        A liberal arts degree is worth less than a High school diploma as is demonstrates that you COULD have gotten a useful education but chose not to.

        February 25, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
      • Frank

        Liberal arts, lol. That's like getting a degree in binge drinking. Underrated. hahahahaha I guess being a comedian would be considered a liberal art.

        Your not serious right?

        February 25, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
      • Frank

        I'm sure his math is better than yours. I have a history degree which is unlikely to ever get me a good job, but I was born to a wealthy family and I enjoyed my time in college. My roommate was an engineering major, he was the smartest and hardest working person I ever met. While I could go out on weekends sure to pass my exams with a few hours study each week. I watched a guy with twice my brains study until 2 am every night and all day on the weekends to barely get by. Comparing a liberal arts degree with an engineering degree is like comparing sand castles with the hover dam, your not in his league.

        February 25, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • bif

      " i was really drunk when i wrote that" sound more like your an alcoholic who was fired because your drinking problem affected your work.

      February 25, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
    • Jaded

      Ex, I understand how you feel. I worked my butt off for two engineering degrees from real universities. My company is flooded with engineers from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Brazil and China. Now we're getting more engineers from Africa. We don't hire experienced American engineers because they want a decent wage. My company would rather import cheap engineers from other countries than pay Americans. Good luck with your career.

      February 26, 2012 at 12:19 am |
  51. Burt Way

    Here is an important fact that most politicians cannot grasp. Simply pushing more people into college will not improve anyhting, although many imagine it will. If the country needs X new grad accountants out of college, and we produce X + 10,000 new grad accountants, then we will have 10,000 would-be accountants who are unemployed as accountants, and under employed in some other capacity when they find work. Further, with a surplus of accounatnt job candidates, employers will be able to offer lower salaries over time.

    February 25, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  52. Steve

    "Kaplan University School of Golfing." Need one say more?

    February 25, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Steve

      I'm sorry, its the "Keiser University College of Golf."

      February 25, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  53. carlyjane6


    February 25, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
  54. mikeb1

    It is foolish to pursue higher education if wealth is your primary goal; one has a much better chance of gaining wealth from learning technical and manufacturing skills on the cheap at a JC and then creating/selling companies (IT, manufacturing, etc) then from any degree.

    A degree is meant to be for those who wish to be able to employ the highest thoughts mankind has conceived in art, technology, literature, philoshophy, etc.; in the quest to find optimal fulifillment in this life.

    February 25, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  55. Merlin

    It's only my unsolicited opinion, but it seems about 25% of this number can't figure their way out of a paper bag, So, all you have to do, is get a student loan, sit through some watered-down classes and you, too, may possess a degree. On the other hand, I've seen some acquaintances work very hard to educate themselves and be quite successful. It's that unusual word "work", I believe, that makes the big difference.

    February 25, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Steve- Illinois

      Shocking isn't it? Work, and responsibility is the only path to success no matter what your level of education!

      February 26, 2012 at 8:45 am |
  56. sonofgadfly

    Degrees are worthless. Education is priceless.

    February 25, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • mikeb1

      Well put.

      February 25, 2012 at 10:33 am |
      • beernpizzalover

        I agree; very well put. Education is what makes a country great.
        Now, if we can just pay our U.S. teachers a decent wage! I mean, it's just the future of our country that we're talking about...

        February 26, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • Geo11710

      I agree, I have 5 years of college education but due to changing of majors of course some do not "count" so I find myself without a degree but yet make $100,000 from what I learned rather than the degree I have.

      February 25, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Bob

      I agree that education is priceless, but to say a degree is worthless is foolishness. A credential of say, a M.Sc. in Aerospace Engineering is worth quite a lot.

      February 26, 2012 at 11:55 am |
  57. Go Figure

    These stats no doubt reflect all degrees...from Associate through Doctorate, as well as some other "credentializations" perhaps. We may have a trend toward dumbing-down some degrees and a lot of ersatz and on-line mills too. No wonder we're suddenly flush with "well-educated" people – but it sure doesn't show readily. It's getting to be like giving everyone a ribbon just for entering the contest. LOL In any case, the education experience is a big plus and will never slow down any career goals or options.

    February 25, 2012 at 5:48 am |
  58. Noone

    We don' cotton tu nonya hifalutin' pointy headed inteleckuals ottin' these here parts! Thinin' is SUBVERSi an' unamurikan!

    February 25, 2012 at 2:41 am |
  59. :)

    The key is not the degree. The key is teaching people valuable skills. I honestly think I did more with my trade school diploma than what I got for both my undergrad and graduate degrees. However, that doesn't mean that I don't think they have value. Finishing college requires patience and discipline. As a business owner, of course I will give a college educated kid a shot-why? because I know they are teachable. I know that they can be analytical in their thinking and approach to problems. This doesn't mean that someone with just a high school education can't be the same way, but college does help.

    February 25, 2012 at 12:04 am |
  60. Mr. University

    Plenty of cases break the rules, millionaires that were high school drops outs, and college grads working at Wawa. But the key point is this is spread over the whole country, when you have a sample size that big you end up with the common themes. That theme is education is worthwhile.

    I started after high school lost, I made $9 an hour and hated my job everyday. I went to college and graduated in Engineering, I came out got a job and was making 2.5x what I made before I ever went. However I realized I wanted to work in Academia as a career so I am now pursuing a PHD in Engineering. (Waits for someone telling me I won't make any money working in academics, it's pointless, and I won't find a job).

    What about just LOVING to learn. Is everyone at a University like that? No! But I am around some of the smartest people who just want to learn, explore, research, and share that with the world. Their is no other reason than that for many of us. You can take a book off the shelf at a library and learn something new right away.

    Oh and on the issue of "personal growth from being in the real world". I can say that undergrad is a bit sheltered, but I have learned more about Time management, organization, personal and social skills, and just overall growing as a person as a result of college. Nobody made me learn those skills, if I wanted to excel I needed to and I am always growing them to get better. Also no we won't have suddenly 90% of the population with PHD's, I expect education to level off eventually. Just look at high school, 15% don't even finish! Some people no matter the benefit won't work for it.

    College isn't for everyone, but I do think everyone should give it a solid try, you may surprise yourself what you are capable of.

    (From a former almost high school dropout, dead end miserable jobber)

    February 24, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
  61. Cecil

    My twin has more education than myself, had an excellent job record as a comptroller, but his position was eliminated, and now he works as a greeter at Walmart. It was a real bear for him to even get interviews in this economy.

    I'm self employed and work at my own pace and have lots of freedom. I've never been unemployed and I had hardly any student loans to pay back after a measly associates degree. So much for doing the right thing and getting all the education you can.

    February 24, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • mikeb1

      Sounds like money is the onlyvalue you see in education: The real value of education comes from having an enriched life not from having a wealthier one.

      February 25, 2012 at 10:36 am |
      • SurRy

        Right. Only in America is education derided.

        February 25, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
      • AGuest9

        Somehow, I don't think high-minded enrichment buys a house, a car to commute to work with, and that career that pays for those things. The enrichment comes later, with maturity and time, or not.

        February 25, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  62. Renato

    I have a BA degree, an MBA and working on my doctorate and still stuck in a $40,000/year job. But hey, in this economy who can complain. Just thankful I have a job.

    February 24, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
  63. liz

    and have no JOB !

    February 24, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
  64. The_Mick

    College degrees mean more people with skills – IF – the degrees are in science, engineering, accounting, etc. and not in the mickey-mouse majors where there are already more majors than jobs like social work, psychology, philosophy, human studies, etc.

    February 24, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • Walter

      Mick, are you from CO?

      February 24, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Social work and psychology? With this screwed-up society, why do we need FEWER of these people?

      February 25, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Thatwave

      All of those degrees have a valid use in society. The only problem is people who are ignorant of their need for such degrees to exist.

      February 25, 2012 at 7:02 pm |

    I hate to break it to you fokes but something called economics is out there... when everybody has a college degree... a degree becomes worthless. The hard cold fact is that you have to beat someone to get a job... I dont know if you all have seen the news from china where there is also a glut of fokes with degrees... take a guess who is goina get the job first.. the crybaby fat body american or the hard working no complaints chinaman.... next thing you know to get out of highschool you will need a PHD to go work at walmart. We need a job related and not a pie in the sky book smarts education system. You have to do something to make money... not just talk about how you would like to because you deserve it as your an american and a god.

    February 24, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • OCW

      I agree – the BA is the new high school diploma

      February 24, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
      • Rose

        The BA may be the new HS Diploma...except for people who don't have one.

        February 25, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
  66. duane

    More degrees but look where it got us,, we need manufacturing jobs

    February 24, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Oodoodanoo

      Give it up already. You ain't getting them. They are never coming back. Repeat, never. You might as well try to make water flow uphill.

      I'll bet you've got a list of snappy retorts of what we can should make the government do to get those jobs back. Every one of those is a failure. They amount of walling off the US from the rest of the world. Sure. If you want to live like North Korea, then we can get those jobs back.

      The future is robots, and nobody anywhere will work those jobs anymore.

      February 25, 2012 at 10:02 am |
      • me

        We're so lucky to have you to explain these things to us.

        February 25, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • AGuest9

      Duane and Oodoodanoo are both right. Any country that doesn't manufacture and export enough to have a healthy GDP is in serious trouble – this place is a fine case in point. Automation is a big part of that, because people are no longer cheap. This is a perfect time for an automating explosion in this country to supplant the retiring Boomers. We just need the products to export to make this happen. That takes true leadership and vision, not a Hollywood Donald Trump caricature of one.

      February 25, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  67. mel

    TO ALL YOU SLAVES OUT THERE WORKING BS JOBS FOR PEANUTS: Just do what I do... sit in my moms basement all day telling people on the interwebs how superior and not enslaved I am in comments on Cnn.com, because I'm not a corporate slave, yo! Mel, you have a rude awakening coming, buddy, lol!

    February 24, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  68. Bob

    I is haveing a collage degree. I not having a job. Why I not having a job when having collage degree?

    February 24, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Luigi

      Bob: u shuld werk on yur speling and grammer,

      February 24, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Rick

      I can has kewl jobz coz I makes bitter LOLCats than u.

      February 24, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • Oodoodanoo

      Me doesnt no

      February 25, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • AGuest9

      Perhaps fewer sports and more classroom time would have helped you with developing soft skills, such as writing and diction.

      February 25, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  69. gr0nt

    TO STAR: I totally agree what you're saying about experience being more valuable than education. Gotta get out there and learn the real world. That's why I went out into the real world right after high school and worked menial job after menial job. Eventually I got sick of seeing lesser men making better money than me, and asked myself, what do they have that I don't? Admitting to myself that it was a college degree was one of the hardest things for me to do. Once I did that, the path became clear, and now 3 years later, I am three semesters short of a bachelors degree in computer science/ electrical engineering. I have to turn down work for 30$ an hour because I am overbooked, while still a student. And I will be about 20k in debt when i am done because i wasnt an idiot and didnt need to go to a 30k a year party school. My books and tuition cost about 1500 a semester, and my education has already started paying for itself. Of course, I worked hard to have real skills! GET BOTH!

    February 24, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  70. Tracey

    Obviously those that don't get that comment didn't go to college. Ignorance is pretty sad. Never commented here before, this will be my last. I'd rather have intelligent conversations.

    February 24, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Luigi

      What sort of intelligent conversation did you want?

      February 24, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  71. Bel

    I only have my high school diploma. I work at a bank making 63k a year, i have experience in the field now for 10 years, i do have friends who are killing themselves paying back student loans and aren't close to what i make. College is not for everyone, it is good to have but there are exceptions.......I am 33

    February 24, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Luigi

      $63K in what market? $63K in in San Jose, CA isn't much. In Topeka, KS not too shabby.

      February 24, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
  72. Tracey

    There is so much more to having an education than the money you make.

    February 24, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Brad

      While your statement is fundamentally true – I hear it coming most often from unemployed or underemployed liberal arts or (fill in the blank) studies graduates. Most are quite bitter than those of us who studied science or engineering were getting job offers before graduation and have gone on to build very good careers and be able to provide a wonderful lifestyle for ourselves and families. Then your next post attempts to insult people here by saying that we are incapable of carrying on an intelligent conversation. It seems to me that you simply regret your choice of major attempt to boost your own self esteem by putting down others who may be more successful financially than you are.

      February 24, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
      • ex-engineer

        Until you turn 35 and realize that your 10 year career spent working 80+ hours a week is over, and the MBA that's your boss just made 10 times your lifetime salary in one bonus check he gave himself for outsourcing your job. But at least you get a severance check IF you train your replacement.

        Yes, I had a job before I graduated just like you. Your young cheap(relatively) and NAIVE. The perfect candidate to use up and toss out when a cheaper replacement comes along. We IMPORT over 100,000 tech workers each year, We make about 85,000 tech jobs each year. Your an engineer, do the math.

        February 25, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • Oodoodanoo

      It's easier to say that on a full stomach.

      February 25, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • mikeb1

      Wow brad seems like you are the one with a chip on your shoulder. I have a liberal arts degree, started my own business before I even graduated, provide a great quality of life for myself and my family, and I can hold an intelligent conversation without belittling anybody, why would I be jealous of your major?

      February 25, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  73. AndyM

    How can this be? I thought higher education was priced out of the average persons income levels? Someone isn't telling the truth here.

    February 24, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Luigi

      Perhaps someone should have gone to college... Perhaps you did. Maybe a few more math courses would have helped...

      February 24, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Thatwave

      Anyone who whines that higher education is out of reach is lying. I have student loans with rates varying from 1.5% to 6% and they aren't hurting me a bit. In fact, I consider them a bargain! I went to college without a college fund and without any assistance from my family, and I earned a MA all on my own. You don't have to be rich to go to college.

      February 25, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
  74. pointless arguing

    Degrees are just something your employer needs to check off their list to weed out candidates. Most jobs offered today don't really need a college degree, but if they didn't require 5 years of experience and higher education, they'd have too many people they'd have to screen. What school you go to and what major you majored in is also a way to screen you out. So the answer is Yes, most higher-paying jobs require a college degree, but a college degree doesn't guarantee you a high-paying job. And if you have a high-paying job and don't have an advanced degree, you were probably born before 1985.

    February 24, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Luigi

      Most jobs, perhaps. In my field (Computer Science), a PhD is worth more than a BS. (Exception would be someone like Linus Torvalds.)

      February 24, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
      • M.F. Luder

        Luigi, you make a fantastic point. There are few Linus Torvalds, or Mark Zuckerbergs, or Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. None have PhDs (unless they were awarded honorarily). They were true visionaries, but I can count only so many of these people. Now, how many people did they employ that earned them the fortunes (except, perhaps, Linus) that they gained? How many of them had PhDs? You see where I'm going.

        February 25, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
  75. nojustice

    Yea thats nice and all, but we we need to compare how many people were employed in their degree in 1998 to how many recieved degrees and see what that really means today. I would be willing to bet that these numbers would not tell the same story.

    February 24, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
  76. gr0nt

    To the girl with the MBA. I am not suprised that the math isn't adding up for you. Your spelling and grammar is so atrocious, I'm suprised that you have any degree at all. I certainly wouldn't hire someone who spent "all that money" and time on an MBA, yet still has the written communication skills of an 8 year old child. Let me guess, you earned that MBA from an online university/degree mill? My advice to people thinking of a unversity degree: go for something that will actually give you real tangible skills that are needed daily, such as nursing or IT. Dont go for business or liberal arts or history or 17th century flemish literature and expect that someone is just gonna give you a job because you were a good boy/girl and went to school "like you were supposed to". EVERYBODY WANTS TO BE THE BOSS, NOBODY WANTS TO BE THE WORKER. Perhaps this is why Ms. MBA is coming up short.

    February 24, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • j

      Business degrees are actually very marketable.

      February 24, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  77. Mel

    Jobs are for slaves. In my opinion, people who willingly choose to be slaves are pretty stupid.

    February 24, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Slave

      Then how do you suggest we get by in life, Mel?

      February 24, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
      • Mel

        You get a job, but you acknowledge that the job is not your true nature and it is only the paradigm that is currently in place that keeps you there. It's scary that people abandon morals and their souls for a system of slavery, when it is our essence that persists beyond the system of slavery to begin with.

        February 24, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • Dumb

      dumb dumb dumb. The leader/follower dichotomy has nothing to do with slavery. It is a process that evolves to eventual equality as we continue to evolve as humans.

      February 24, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
  78. Priorities

    The most disturbing statistic in my mind is the fact that 15% don’t even finish high school. Wow. Instead of trying to push everyone through college, why not focus on making sure people can at least get through high school. Not going to college is one thing, but if you don’t even finish high school, how do you expect to even remotely get ahead in life?

    February 24, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Star

      Experience is more important than education. Struggling through poverty for 10 years will teach me much more than being pampered by my parents and an Ivy League "school"

      February 24, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Consider learning a trade

      15%? I'm surprised that it's that low.

      February 24, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Olga Levin

      Finishing up high school is of key importance as well. It is very sad that people out there don't understand that getting a GED is good if you did not graduate from high school but it really is looked down up on in most businesses. Having a high school education is EVERYTHING to getting started.

      February 24, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • SurRy

      "Experience is more important than education." This has NEVER been my experience, but if it makes you feel better...

      February 26, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
  79. Consider learning a trade

    Degrees are fine, if they're tangible. Unfortunately, most aren't worth the paper they're printed on.

    February 24, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  80. Bob

    It's kind sad that 15% of adults don't have a high school diploma or GED. College may not be for everyone, but I thought our society had gotten to the point where the vast majority of people (by vast I mean >99%) finish high school.

    February 24, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  81. Danno

    Someone really needs to sue these mother##43eers for false advertising. I wish someone had told me sooner that college is a scam. They actually make you pay an arm and a leg for a useless degree in the liberal arts.

    February 24, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Star

      Many *things* in life are a scam, because anything unnatural is not life. Glad someone picked up on the fact that college is ADVERTISING, and is just as important as AXE deodorant, for example.

      February 24, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Luigi

      Why did you think a Liberal Arts degree was worth much money?

      February 24, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Oodoodanoo

      The liberal arts departments are the welfare zones of the universities. Science, technology, engineering, and math bring in the big grant money. Then the university takes a hefty cut for itself, which it doles out to administration and the under-performing departments.

      Liberal arts departments love to tell you that their degrees teach you how to think critically. Unfortunately, many non-critical thinking young undergrads believe them.

      February 25, 2012 at 10:13 am |
      • Burt Way

        "Critical thinking" in college all too often means echoing back to your professor his or her opinions, without being too obvious about it.

        February 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  82. SamIam

    With the online buy your diploma mills I do not see why this is such startling information.
    I surely would not hire any of them. I consider it lazy if you cannot attend a traditional university.

    February 24, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Consider learning a trade

      Is it considered lazy if you can't afford one?

      February 24, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Think

      They really need to ban these for-profit "colleges". I'm all for private enterprise, but almost all of these so-called "schools" are scam artists and participants in fraud.

      February 24, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
      • Consider learning a trade

        Aren't all colleges for profit?

        February 24, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • :)

      that's not necessarily true. My spouse attended a medical trade school and guess what? made six figures within 5 years working in radiology.

      February 25, 2012 at 12:11 am |
  83. tamara reina

    I have an MBA and this article is indefine need more studying because higher degree one should make make more but not always some makes what people with a high school education gets paid. more education more money the math does not add up

    February 24, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • Online learner

      Wow. Tamara, you should probably have invested in some course work that included foundational English grammar.

      February 24, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Luigi

      Where did you get your MBA? I'm not going to apply to that college.

      February 24, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • BRBSanDiego

      Non-native English speaker.

      February 24, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • bob k

      I am an MBA student, and my god, your grammar is an embarrassment for all graduate students and also Business students. I am guessing your MBA came from keller or somewhere along those lines

      February 24, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • lies

      OMG! I tinkering I tarted two bekome dummy - reading that from a MB....bulls#$@

      February 25, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
  84. CMAC

    Great, so lets look at this another way. Do you mean to tell me that 15% of our population doesnt even have a high school diploma...pathetic on them and our education system. Someone tell me what the stats on on the amount of money we spend on prisons, welfare and other safety nets on that 15%. It has to be appalling. And lets look at the recent recession.....a paltry 4.3% of adults WITH a 4 year degree were unemployed throughout this economic downturn so lets keep talking about why it isn't worth it to go to college?

    February 24, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  85. KefkaDoesDeadlyMagic

    Quality of a degree makes a difference. sad but true. A masters in sociology isn't as lucrative as a masters in engineering. Its not just obtaining a piece of paper its type specific that raises your chances of getting a job. Success? Now that is a different story.

    February 24, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  86. CoJo

    if you go to the CBSNews web site, there is an article there where Santorum says he thinks it is a bad idea for everyone to go to college.

    February 24, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • Brad

      For some it is a terrible waste of time and money. I work in an industry that is in desperate need of skilled machinists and welders, yet we have a very difficult time finding them. Those that we do find and hire earn in excess of $80k/year.Why are there so few skilled trades people coming into the workforce? Because so many people preach to our young people that the only way you can be considered a success is to have a college degree. That is simply nonsense!

      February 24, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
      • Bettina

        I would agree with you on that. The educational system in this country is not well tailored for the high trade skill jobs. I worked in Switzerland for a few years and my understanding of their educational system (the system in most Germanic countries) is that, around age 14, students diverge into two paths. One path is the academic path that then leads to college and a profession needing higher education. The other path is one that pursues trade skills where, from the age of ~15 to ~18, students spend half their time in classes and half their time in apprenticeships. This Germanic system produces well skilled workers that are admired throughout the world.

        February 26, 2012 at 9:39 am |
  87. lies

    My brother has a masters... been out of work for 2 years. My gf has a bachelors and makes 26,000 a year. I have no degree and make 50k a year. Top paying 50 jobs in America, you don't need a college degree.

    February 24, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • lies

      Correction: half of top paying 50 jobs in America. Sorry about that 😉

      February 24, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
      • Zack

        You have to believe you are the exception though (and you are!). When looking at the value of a college degree you have to look at it in terms of life-time earnings, not salary in a 2 or 3 or 10 year span...most advanced degrees don't end up paying for themselves until your 40's and 50's. Education is the one thing a person can do to give them the advantage in life.

        February 24, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
      • lies

        Disagree Zack. Most my friends who have been with Microsoft for 2 – 15 years don't have college degrees. The article should have focused on degrees allow you to get your foot in the door... after that, its self determination and learning 😉

        February 24, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
      • Charlie

        Zack is right; I have a Masters degree, and am pulling down between $50k and $60k a year (part of my compensation is stock), but then again I'm also only 29 yeas old and have only been in the workplace full time for about five and a half years. College education will never hurt you, and it's foolish to think that because you're making $50k a year now, that trend will continue indefinitely. Look at the industries that were hardest hit by job losses – finance, Wall Street, brokers, etc. – some of the highest paying jobs in the economy. I.T. was also hit pretty bad (which is the industry I'm in, so I'm very fortunate to have kept working).

        February 24, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
      • sadtosay

        I have to somewhat agree with lies. I have a job that doesn't require a degree and am making much more than the average family or the majority of my friends who got a bachelors. The problem is that many people are now going to schools that leave them with crippling debt and jobs with income levels that have been stagnant compared to the rise in tuition rates.

        February 26, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • True

      I can relate to this. My brother-in-law has a Masters and has been out of work for over a year. Every time he applies for a job, he’s told that he’s over-qualified. My wife has a Bachelor’s, can speak 3 languages, and barely makes 30K. I didn’t even try to go to college, started at the bottom of my company, have slowly worked my way up, and now make close to 80K. And I don't have to worry about paying back student loans.

      I’m not trying to downplay the value of education. Please don't misunderstand me. Does a degree increase your chances to succeed? Of course. But it doesn’t guarantee a thing. Most of the time, it depends on where you live, what you’re willing to do, etc.

      February 24, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
      • Luigi

        A nursing license doesn't guarantee success but it's a good way for some. I know someone who finished nursing school and went to the job fair. By morning, he had 2 job offers.

        It was the type of program where he also ended up with a bachelor's degree.

        February 24, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
      • freetofile

        You make some really good points. A degree is not a magic bullet and there are certainly other paths to making a good living for oneself. I chose to go get a degree, but I worked my way through college and came out with no debt. A person can make either path work.

        February 26, 2012 at 12:52 am |
    • Luigi

      These compensation numbers don't mean much without knowing region. Cost of living is much higher in Silicon Valley than Kansas.

      February 24, 2012 at 5:34 pm |