How important is college? As most high schoolers graduate this spring, they won't even bother asking this question: getting a degree after college is a no-brainer. So any young adult who gets in generally goes. But a college education isn't all that necessary for many jobs. That leaves some shelling out -- or more often getting loans for -- tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on an education that might not ultimately help them do their job better. After all, they can't simply not go to college, right?
The question of the necessity of college was brought up this weekend in a thought-provoking article in the New York Times. Here's one of the most important points in the piece:
College degrees are simply not necessary for many jobs. Of the 30 jobs projected to grow at the fastest rate over the next decade in the United States, only seven typically require a bachelor's degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Among the top 10 growing job categories, two require college degrees: accounting (a bachelor's) and postsecondary teachers (a doctorate). But this growth is expected to be dwarfed by the need for registered nurses, home health aides, customer service representatives and store clerks. None of those jobs require a bachelor's degree.
Of course, whether or not a job actually requires a degree isn't really asking the right question. Employer demand matters. In a blog post today, David Leonhardt focuses on relative pay, which sheds some light on what a college degree can get you. He concludes that, since those with college degrees have better compensation prospects, college must be worth it. Here's a chart he uses to prove his point: