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Majority of Unemployed Have Been to College

College students will grimace at today’s Wall Street Journal, which reports that, for the first time ever, a majority of the unemployed have completed some college education:

In May 4.8 million of the 9.2 million people older than 25 looking for work had spent at least some time in college, while 48% of the unemployed had only completed high school.

The shift is due primarily to changing demographics in the U.S. A larger share of the population is attending college than ever before.  In October of last year, 68.3% of 2011 high school graduates were enrolled in colleges or universities, according to the Labor Department.

For years, young people were told that a college degree—no matter what major—was the key to unlocking a high paying, steady work for the rest of your life. Clearly, that doesn’t work anymore (if it ever really did). Students need to think more carefully about their educational priorities before laying down what in some cases amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars in tuition paid and income foregone. Colleges need to change, too, by cutting costs and making sure their students are learning as much as they possibly can for every additional tuition dollar.

In a world in which college degrees were scarce, just having a degree or even some postsecondary schooling marked you out as special in the workplace. In a world in which those degrees have become ordinary, something more — skills, attitude, creativity — is needed.

For college grads facing a dismal jobs outlook, change can’t come fast enough.

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  • Mike Anderson

    “When everyone’s super…No one will be.”

  • Some Sock Puppet

    “In a world in which college degrees were scarce, just having a degree or even some postsecondary schooling marked you out as special in the workplace.”

    This is exactly what my dad drilled into me over and over.

    That theory, which worked so well for him (when his total years tuition was 3,500.)didn’t work out well for the next generation. It didn’t help that I’m one of the vanguard of the (forced) medicated males either. Those drugs do damage.

    I’m still trying to figure out how to pivot, or even where to pivot to, but with this government, trying to do anything is likely to lead in more financial disaster and I’ve put my wife through enough.

    Looking at the gestalt, we are in deep, deep trouble if we don’t find a way to prevent the systemic destruction of our children and their futures.

  • Jim.

    Bring back skill tests for jobs.

    That way, instead of encouraging kids to get an expensive degree of questionable value, you encourage kids to spend their time learning how to perform a valuable task.

    The degree to which this will help everybody vastly outweighs any “disparate impact” the lawyers can cook up.

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