By Sari Wakefield, Manager, Digital Communications, AACSB International
As explored in a somewhat recent Wall Street Journal article, "The Diploma's Vanishing Value," the decision to attend college in the United States is more often based on the uncertainty of a degree's immediate return on investment, rather than its life-long value. With "unemployment among college graduates at historic highs and outstanding student-loan debt at 1 trillion USD," U.S. high school students are more often thinking twice about going to college due to economic and financial circumstances (Selingo, 2013).
However, students should try to think about the long-term rewards versus the short-term uncertainities of pursuing a college degree. The U.S. economy will evolve past this period, and it is likely that it will emerge in a slightly different form. For example, after the Great Depression the U.S. economy moved from an agricultural focus to a manufacturing focus. Thus, prospective business students should focus on what the new economy might look like in the future. For instance, in a recent Forbes article, "Is the U.S. in a Phase of Change," innovation and creativity were predicted to be the driving forces of the economy moving forward. Regardless if this prediction is correct or not, employers will most likely continue to trend toward requiring more than a high school or vocational-level education, particularly with significant changes in technology and global marketplaces. Companies will seek innovative employees who have the collegiate-level skills to analyze business analytics, understand business models and how to apply them, and manage product lines effectively and efficently.
However, even with a long-term focus it can be difficult to move past the uncertainity of not having employment after graduation. Try to think about and focus on steps that you can take as a college student to improve your chances of landing a job soon after graduation. For instance, engaging in professional employment while you earn your degree is an important consideration. Today, companies need mature professionals that have a sense of responsibility. Companies want employees who are on time, produce quality work, and act appropriately in a variety of situations. This is why having some professional work experience (such as internships, community projects, consulting projects through your coursework, or small business ventures) on your resume will show employers that you have an idea of what is expected. Secondly, don't discount networking early in your college years, particularly with your professors. Professors often work closely with businesses for research and consulting, meaning they often are contacted about prospective employees. Because of this, it is important to put your best foot forward every time you attend class. Afterall, you never know who may be watching or reviewing your work, and what kinds of opportunities this may lead to.
(2013, April 26). Selingo, J. J. "The Diploma's Vanishing Value." Wall Street Journal.