Fries With That BA? The Declining Value of a Degree

This was the headline of a Globe and Mail article published in April 2013. It paints a dismal and dreary picture of the Bachelor of Arts. While, I agree with the article in many ways, I do think that it falls short to offer hope for students pursuing a B.A. or who have graduated from a B.A.. 

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It is unfortunate, but the reality for many students today is that a Bachelor of Arts on its own is not enough to compete in the job market.
There are three reasons for this:

  1. The surplus of degree holders in the marketplace has allowed employers to demand even more education from its workers. For example, although a B.A. used to be enough to secure a management level position, it is now common for many employers to ask for a graduate degree even though one may not be required. Students understand this and now commonly remark that the B.A. is worth no more than what a high school diploma once was.

  2. Our economy has been become knowledge-based, requiring greater levels of specialized training. This is why so many universities have partnered with trade colleges. These agreements allow a student to either earn a degree and college certification/diploma at the same time or they guarantee a certain number of credits are transferred when applying to the sister university or college.

  3. Our society has become credential happy. If you aren’t certified in something, you will probably struggle in the job market. Many unaccredited professions have now formed associations in the hopes of bringing greater legitimacy to their professions in the eyes of their customers.

The Good News

I often recommend that students consider college training before or after completing a B.A.. College training can be a wonderful complement to a university degree even if you cannot see the relevance (and vice versa). I remember explaining to a student how the skills learned in his B.A. in Economics will translate well into his career as an electrician. Did he need a B.A. to become an electrician? Certainly not, but since he had earned his degree it was important for him to understand how the critical skills acquired in his B.A. would serve him well in college and in his future career as a tradesperson.

As a final word on this subject let me say this: even if you have regrets about pursuing a B. A. instead of college, trust me, it was not a waste. The skills are transferable and will be with you for a lifetime.

For more insight on the B.A., check out my new ebook entitled Crush IT at College: A No Nonsense Guide to Succeeding at College and University.

For more advice on this subject, book an appointment with your personal Academic Advisor.