Poll Says Degrees Still Valuable, but Readers Share Frustrations

In our July monthly poll, we asked readers if they thought that this year, with high unemployment rates and a highly competitive job market, higher education is still worth the cost.

The results were mixed, but 50.3% of readers said that yes, they did think higher education is still valuable in this economy. At the same time, 32.9% of readers said that they did not think higher education is worth the cost, and 16.8% responded that they were not sure.

Comments on the poll illustrated that mixed feelings run deep when it comes to the value of higher education, especially in this economy. Some shared frustration, bitterness, and even anger about attaining college and advanced degrees but still struggling in a difficult job market.

Others offered insight into the value of work experience. One shared, “I just wouldn't recommend going from undergraduate to graduate school without any real work experience. It will be even harder in my opinion when you graduate.”

Another said, “A degree doesn't provide anyone with a guarantee. It does tend to open more doors than those who don't have a degree, but that is about it.”

So, as the summer wraps up and universities prep to welcome a new wave of students, will you be joining them? If so, are you planning to work to gain experience while you go to school? Are you looking for a different way to learn about your industry? Share your higher education plans for this upcoming semester in our comments section.


  1. Gary Alan Miller

    Paraphrasing (hopefully not mis-characterizing) John Dewey: while it’s not unreasonable to expect a career to result from an education, it is not the reason for that education.
    An educated democracy is a better democracy. Plus, the better educated tend to live longer, have higher levels of community involvement and have children who are in better health and have higher educational outcome potential.
    A fascinating statistic that many don’t realize: As of 2008, only 29.5% of our nation aged 25 and higher held a college degree (http://www.dol.gov/wb/stats/main.htm). So, one can also still be proud to be among the best educated in our society.
    Obviously none of that is salve for someone who doesn’t have a job. But, there are still lots of great reasons to congratulate and celebrate the completion of a degree!

  2. Karla Westerfield

    I believe that higher education should become more and more specialized as you move through it. I don’t believe that every student entering college should be required to take all the standard pre-req’s before moving into their chosen field of study. Freshman English should belong to those who came out of high school with less than 12th grade English at their command.
    So many students are entering college at a later date now and should be tested and placed as reflected on a placement exam. I was one of a handful of students going back to college in my late 30’s. I received a perfect score on the english portion of the placement testing and was told that I still had to take Freshman English or CLEP it. I refused that option and decided not to pursue a degree, but just take what courses applied to me over the years.
    Of my 3 adult children, the 27 year old will have his bachelor’s this December, the 35 year old has only her associate’s and the 32 year old has still not entered college. I fully believe that college is a necessary evil: it’s a check mark that employers want if they’re going to give you a good salary. I’m not even sure they care what the degree is in!

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