Jobseekers: The Startling Truth About How Much Your College Education is Really Worth!

Sad graduateForget how much your college degree is worth for a second and think about how much it cost.  If you don’t know because your parents footed the bill, as did mine, I will tell you.  The average yearly tuition costs plus room and board for an in-state student attending a four year public university is more than $18,000 for 2013-2014.  The fee increases by two to four percent every year so today’s graduate will spend a cool $75,000 by the time they cross the stage and that’s if they get out in four years!  Perhaps even more gut churning is the cost of attending a private institution which will run you north of $40,000 a year.  You do the math for how much that diploma will cost.

So is going to college, especially to a prestigious private institution, really worth it?  Recent research suggests that hiring managers spend only about six seconds reviewing a candidate’s resume.  During that brief time they examine the candidate’s name, their most recent work experience and their education credentials.  I’m going to suggest that a whopping two of those six seconds is actually spent analyzing where the candidate obtained their $72,000+ education. A recent survey by Gallup of over 600 U.S. business leaders shows that 84% of them feel that the amount of knowledge a candidate has in a particular field to be “very important” compared to only 9% who feel that where a job candidate went to school to be “very important”.  Conversely 40% feel that where a candidate went to school to be “not very important”.  How’s that prestigious private pedigree feeling now?  Perhaps you’re feeling like maybe you or your parents overspent a bit on your education.  At least your stellar G.P.A. will reflect positively on you right?  Well maybe not.

Lazlo Bock, SVP of People Operations at Google, said this last year in regards to evaluating job candidates’ G.P.A., “One of the things we’ve seen from all our data crunching is that G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless — no correlation at all except for brand-new college grads, where there’s a slight correlation.  After two or three years, your ability to perform at Google is completely unrelated to how you performed when you were in school, because the skills you required in college are very different. You’re also fundamentally a different person.”

In summation, a college diploma and honors from the University of Awesomeness doesn’t necessarily give you a leg up because not only does a hiring manager care very little about where you went but data suggests you may not perform any better than Fred the Frat Boy.

So should you even go to college if possible?  The answer is still a very emphatic “yes”!  Aside from the cultural experience and friendships you are bound to experience, millennials between the ages of 25-34 on average earn $17,000 more annually than those without a college diploma.  Additionally the unemployment rate for those without a college education is three times higher than for those with a college diploma.  Yes, your college education is worth a great deal especially when compared against those with no education.  However, your 3.8 G.P.A. from the Univ. of Awesomeness isn’t worth any more than Fred the Frat Boy’s 2.4 G.P.A. from the College of We Don’t Absolutely Suck.  Why?  Because the hiring manager is generally more concerned with what you and Fred are doing currently, not where you went and how hard you studied years ago.  Perhaps the only difference between you and Fred now is that he has to pay off $85,000 less than you.

About Ryder Cullison

Ryder has more than 10 years of experience working with retained search clients as a search professional. As a pioneer of Interview4 he has great knowledge of video interviewing. He writes about all things hiring and looks forward to engaging with his audience on topics of leadership, recruiting, candidate screening, and employee satisfaction. Follow him on Twitter: @hireintelligent and @cullison1
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3 comments on “Jobseekers: The Startling Truth About How Much Your College Education is Really Worth!

  1. Terence Verma on said:

    When you are out in the world and far from Momma and Pappa’s caring, your values crystallise in the crucible of your life’s experiences. Your awesomeness or otherwise, irrespective of ‘Ivy League’, shows up like daylight.

  2. I totally agree with Ryder Cullison. I also have degree in hotel management. I have finished my degree in 2011. I spend about 60,000$ for my study, but that cost is worthwhile cause now i got 25,000$ per year from my work. When i finished my study, i went to many recruitment agencies in nepal and they recruit me for job related to my skill and my degree.

  3. Truth might hurt but in the real word this is how things are. So, for me, formal education hadn’t been a priority. I’ve always accepted the importance of theory but I’m an action person. During the university studies I tried to keep my marks at a decent level ( upper than middle) but I spent most of my time involving in NGOs , student associations and in different kind of activities. After a while I realized how important were these things, almost all the employers asked me about my experience ( they weren’t at all interested in my formal education as far as I knew so many practical things to do, some many things from the real world ).This issue between hiring for education vs. experience is so complex that a discussion about this will depend on the needs of the organization. But from my point of view experience is much more important than the education.

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