Will employers value your online degree?

Employers see online degrees as the equivalent of traditional degrees only under certain conditions. 

More teens drop out, take GED

Letting high-school-age teens take the GED encourages dropouts, some economists and educators fear. A quarter of GED test-takers are 16 to 18 years old, reports the Washington Post. They’re passing up a high school diploma for a much less valuable credential: GED holders earn as little as dropouts who didn’t pass the test and very few go on to earn a higher degree.

“We are making it easy for them to make a mistake,” said James Heckman, a Nobel-Prize winning economist at the University of Chicago.

If cognitive skills were enough, people who demonstrate high school equivalence by passing the GED would perform equally well in the workplace or in college, he said. Instead, dropping out of high school usually portends a lifelong pattern of dropping out, he said. Studies shows high school dropouts have higher rates of job turnover, college attrition, turnover in the military and even divorce, compared with those who stuck it out in high school.

“Sitting in school and showing up on time and doing in school what people ask you to do — those are useful, if dull, tedious traits to have,” Heckman said.

The GED isn’t easy: To pass, test takers must outperform about 40 percent of graduating seniors. It’s being revised to conform to Common Core Standards, which is expected to make it harder.

College rush is slowing

“The recession convinced many young American high-school graduates to take refuge in college instead of try their luck in a lousy job market,” reports the Wall Street Journal. But, now fewer high school graduates are going on to college, according to the Labor Department.

On 2012, 66.2 percent of recent graduates enrolled in college:  The share of female graduates enrolling in college declined from 72.3 percent the year before to 71.3 percent. Men, who are lagging in college attendance, declined from 64.6 percent to 61.3 percent.

Some graduates think they can find jobs, though unemployment rates remain high — 34.4 percent for high school graduates who aren’t in school.

I suspect young people are more wary of borrowing for college, especially if they’re not strong students.

More entry-level jobs require college degree

One third of employers say they’re hiring college graduates for jobs that used to require a high school diploma.

You don’t need a BA to work at McDonald’s

Job seekers don’t need a bachelor’s degree and experience to work at McDonald’s, reports the Boston Globe.

An independent job search site inaccurately claimed the McDonald’s in Winchendon, Massachusetts was looking for college graduates with one to two years of experience to work as cashiers.

McD’s ad seeks 4-year degree for cashier job

McDonald’s cashiers need a bachelor’s degree and one to two years of experience, according to a want ad for a McDonald’s in Winchedon, Massachusetts. ”Get a weekly paycheck with a side order of food, folks and fun,” says the ad.

Degree inflation gone wild or a cruel joke? It’s hard to say.

“Permaterns” — permanent interns — are working for low and no pay through their 20s and sometimes into their 30s, reports The Week.  ”For many in Washington, the American dream starts with a highbrow internship that pays $4.35 an hour — then another, and maybe another.”  Graduates with poli sci degrees are a dime a dozen — or less.

It takes a degree to be a file clerk

“The college degree is becoming the new high school diploma: the new minimum requirement, albeit an expensive one, for getting even the lowest-level job,” reports the New York Times.

At an Atlanta law firm, all the support staff are four-year graduates from paralegals, admins and file clerks to the $10-an-hour courier.

“College graduates are just more career-oriented,” said Adam Slipakoff, the firm’s managing partner. “Going to college means they are making a real commitment to their futures. They’re not just looking for a paycheck.”

Maybe they’re looking for a miracle. The law firm’s receptionist, who earns $37,000 a year, graduated from the Art Institute of Atlanta in 2011 with a degree in fashion and retail management. “I am over $100,000 in student loan debt right now,” said Megan Parker.

“Degree inflation” is increasing, reports the Times. Many “jobs that didn’t used to require a diploma — positions like dental hygienists, cargo agents, clerks and claims adjusters — are increasingly requiring one,” according to Burning Glass, a company that analyzes job ads.

Requiring a bachelor’s degree is a handy way to cut down on the huge pile of applications for every job, a recruiter tells the Times.

Too many college graduates?

A growing number of college graduates are underemployed, concludes a new study. Nearly half of employed college graduates are in jobs that don’t require a four-year degree, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Top job with 2-year degree: air traffic controller

The top-paying jobs requiring an associate degree are air traffic controller (median pay of $108,040), construction manager ($83,860) and radiation therapist ($74,980). Jobs requiring a two-year degree are growing rapidly, lead by health care jobs.

College remains a good investment

College remains a good investment, concludes the Hamilton Project. College is 50 percent more expensive than it was 30 years ago, but the lifetime earning gains — $450,000 more than a high school graduate’s earnings — are 75 percent higher.

Today’s jobs — and tomorrow’s — require more education and training, say human resources professionals.