La Verne will be saying good-bye to the graduating Leopards in a little over a week.
These seniors have dedicated four years to gaining knowledge and the needed skills to compete in the job world they will shortly be entering.
Erik Bressler, a junior criminology major who plans to graduate in a year and then head to law school.
He said that for most people it does not really matter what they get their bachelor’s in because a graduate degree is often required for their career choice.
“I have friends who majored in one thing and got masters in completely different fields,” Bressler said.
Stephanie Abrahim, sophomore psychology and social behavior major at UC Irvine, said that in the line of work for which she is headed a bachelor’s degree is not enough.
Abrahim plans to go into the medical field and said she sees a bachelor’s degree as more of a requirement before grad school that is not always relevant to the career choice.
“Grad school is really what prepares you for the job,” Abrahim said. “Employees know that and students are starting to understand that too.”
Bachelor degrees are becoming so common that they are more-or-less equivalent to what a high school diploma used to be.
Furthermore, bachelor’s that were once an end point have now become just another step toward the final result.
Paula Verdugo, director of career services at the University of La Verne, said that certain degrees have become obsolete.
She said it started with high school diplomas not being enough because jobs that require that degree are being reserved for cheaper labor.
Verdugo also said that this can be seen in some disciplines where a bachelor’s degree is not enough.
Bressler and Abrahim fall into this category along with many other students because their career choices can only be realized through earning a master’s or higher.
“More and more companies are requiring a degree not for the major but for the discipline the degree required,” Verdugo said.
“Bachelor’s are check points for us to show we are ready to get to the next step,” said Letty Cardenas, sophomore biology major at ULV.
After earning her bachelor’s Cardenas plans to enter medical school, so she can pursue pediatrics.
Adam Wu, admissions representative at ULV, said that people are seeing that those without advanced degrees are more likely to get laid-off.
In “The Job Hunting Handbook” by Harry Dahlstrom, data was collected from 2012 that showed the unemployment rate by education level in March.
It was found that those with less than a high school diploma made up 12.6 percent of the unemployment rate, while those with high school diplomas accounted for 8 percent of the unemployed, those with associate’s degrees made up 7.5 percent and those with a bachelor’s degrees or higher made up only 4.2 percent of the unemployment rate.
“It used to be that college graduates started five steps ahead but now everyone has (a degree),” Verdugo said.
Verdugo said that jobs are decreasing and grads are increasing, which means fewer opportunities for employees but more to choose from for employers.
“In today’s time you will hit a brick wall without a degree,” Verdugo said.
Verdugo said that younger students need degrees to compete with those who have years of experience in the workforce while older students need degrees for promotions or to change their line of work.
“I’ve been working at the same job for the past seven years and I’m not making enough money,” Desiree Lovato, a student at the University of Phoenix, said. “Without my parents’ support I would not be able to take care of my little boy.”
As a single-mom of a nine-year-old, Lovato said that a pre-school teacher’s salary cannot provide the type of life she wants to give her son.
To change the direction of her future Lovato decided to earn a degree in psychology.
“There’s a pattern: if jobs are down more people are enrolling in classes to increase their knowledge and get a job,” Susan Wilson, academic adviser for the Campus Accelerated Program for Adults at ULV, said.
Wilson said that enrollment in the CAPA program at ULV has almost doubled since the job crisis.
Angelica Pena, junior psychology major at ULV, said that the current economy makes graduate school seem a distant goal.
“Money is so tight; I find it impossible to get a masters right now,” Pena said.
After graduation Pena said that rather going to graduate school she plans to find a job; however, Pena said that in all probability the job will not be in the psychology field.
Wu said that bachelor’s degrees are not becoming obsolete but in the near future having a master’s will certainly set someone apart from their competition.
“Way back when it was all about the associate’s degree. Now it’s the bachelor’s,” Lovato said. “Pretty soon everyone will be returning for a masters’ so I plan to start mine early.”
Mariela Jaquez is a student at Cal State San Bernardino who plans to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in business.
“I don’t know if I’m wasting time or if it’s worth it,” Jaquez said. “But looking at people who have a degree versus those who don’t (you can see) that people who go to school think very differently than those who don’t go.”
A recent Los Angeles Times article by Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney stated “those with college degrees, on average, earn far more than those without them.”
This information keeps people interested in working on a higher degree.
Wu said that this is reflected in the college environment, which has started to shift with more students being proactive in their education by asking questions that pertain to their future.
“High school students are not asking how nice the campus is but does the school help (students) get internships and jobs,” Wu said.
Verdugo said that internships are becoming as important as a degree because it helps students get a foot in the door of their chosen field.
Verdugo said interns are more likely to be hired because they are less of a risk than hiring outside employees.
Employers do not want to spend valuable time and money searching for new workers because the previous employees did not fulfill the requirements.
Another main benefit with hiring interns is that the employers know how the intern works, so they are more likely to hire who they know. Verdugo said that because of the importance employers put in internships, they are now being used as the extra step in securing the job.
Furthermore, employers are often the ones training interns so hiring the worker they have molded is the most logical step.
Verdugo said that marketing and building relationships with people in the field is also done through internships, which can lead to future jobs as well.
Dahlstrom also writes in his book that people are 50 times more likely to get hired through an employee connection.
The National Association of Colleges and Employers reported last month that 58.6 percent of the class of 2011 interns turned into full-time hires. This is a new high record since NACE began reporting the conversion rates of interns into employees in 2000.
“A degree will guarantee that you can knock on an employer’s door but a degree will not guarantee that you will get the job,” Verdugo said.
Cardenas said to be a competitor she has be involved in activities that are not related to school; such as volunteering at hospitals and participating in sports.
Greenstone and Looney, wrote “the more education you obtain, the better off your job prospects and future earnings.”
The benefits of higher education are still seen as outweighing the detriments. Regardless of the degree titles we put on our resumes, it is still pertinent to continue adding to the list.
Amanda Nieto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.