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Half of Grads Don't Need Their Degree

It's no secret that four years of tuition at Boston College is ludicrously expensive, but we often console ourselves with the thought that it will pay off in the end. We assume that future employers will see “Boston College” on our resumes and be thrilled to make us business executives in no time at all.

Image via Alex Krowiak/Gavel Media.

Image via Alex Krowiak/Gavel Media.

According to a study done by McKinsey&Company, however, a college student’s worst fear may be true: half of all college graduates didn’t need to bother with a degree. Just as chilling, according to research performed by the Associated Press in 2011, 1.5 million, or 53.6% of college graduates under the age of 25 were out of work or underemployed.

As expected, these numbers are less dire for those who study the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math). According to McKinsey, 75% of those graduates are in positions which required a four-year degree. Only 43% of those in the visual and performing arts need their degree, with 54% of those in the social sciences, which is where most BC degrees seem to fall into.

Steve Jobs knows what we're talking about. Image via backofthenapkin/Flickr.

Steve Jobs knows what we're talking about.
Image via backofthenapkin/Flickr.

There’s more: A third of all graduates say that college did not prepare them for the working world. This seems more understandable as there are no midterms once college is over, and you probably won’t have to read hundreds of pages a week in case there’s a pop quiz. Still, one would like to assume that four years worth of work will have a tangible effect on everyday lives after graduation, and this doesn’t appear to be the case for most grads.

If you believe college rankings are meaningful, another statistic might disappoint a few Eagles: Forty percent of graduates from the nation’s top one hundred colleges couldn’t find jobs in their chosen field. According to the famous US News rankings, this ranges from Princeton University to Iowa State University, with BC coming in at 31st. At least when a job is finally found, students from the top 100 universities earn 17%-19% more than students from other schools.

Studying in Edmonds. Image via Burns Library, Boston College/Flickr.

Studying in Edmonds.
Image via Burns Library, Boston College/Flickr.

Andre Dua, a McKinsey director who co-leads the firm’s education practice in North America, said in an interview with Forbes Magazine that “your career prospects are highly variable depending on where you go and what you studied on the one hand, and what you do to prepare yourself on the other hand.” Internships and work experience are key, an idea which most BC students know based on the constant inundation of emails and Career Center notices.

Overall, the findings of this study may seem to be hyperbolic at first glance. Saying half of all jobs don’t need a degree might be placing too much emphasis on those graduates who are working in a different field than their studies indicate, such as retail. BC administrators would argue that our liberal arts education prepares us for the likely possibility that our interests will change and our jobs won’t be a direct translation from what we chose to major in.

The job market isn’t great for anyone at the moment, and it's possible that finding that a college degree is not necessary might affect the rate of college applications. However, although it may be less practical, liberal arts degrees such as those offered at Boston College may be necessary for well-paying jobs in the future.

Featured image via GC Communications/Flickr.