If life were an ‘80s action movie — and life really ought to be an ‘80s action movie — bachelor’s degrees would be Arnold Schwarzenegger. They’ve become a permanent staple of the ‘80s action movie that is the higher education scene (and probably won’t retire into politics anytime soon). We here at bachelorsdegreeonline.com have the evidence to back that claim up!
The census bureau’s latest findings reveal that 30% of Americans now hold baccalaureate status. Which, by the way, just so happens to be a record-breaking moment in the nation’s history, because it marks the highest percentage of the citizenship with bachelor’s degrees since its eighteenth century inception. All demographics enjoyed an increase in numbers since the 1970s slump in graduation rates, too. Such a positive uptick likely stems from the fact that more and more jobs require bachelor’s degrees. Thereby leading us to this next point…
Many positions once requiring either no college education or an associate degree now desire applicants with a baccalaureate instead. For example, Iowa lawmakers currently debate making the diploma compulsory for all individuals hoping to work in the nursing field. All nurses in the state must pass a licensing exam regardless of whether they hold a bachelor’s or an associate, but the new restrictions might tighten up the restrictions by jettisoning the two-year degree option. Other positions whose numbers are seeing an increase in job postings requiring a bachelor’s or higher include dental laboratory technicians and hygienists, photographers, and architectural drafters, among others.
Despite the fact that enrollment in community colleges experienced a dip over the past year or so, that downturn absolutely does not negate the major reason why so many students find them such an attractive higher ed option: the comparatively low cost. It’s a perk that many schools carry over from their associate degrees to their bachelor’s, when they offer them. Some, such as a few different systems in Florida, have started offering such diplomas because of legislation allowing them to expand their providences from two-year to four-year degree plans. This measure increases access to the bachelor’s degrees more and more companies now expect of their entry-level employees.
But even at traditional four-year colleges and universities, legislatures look at solutions to increasing the number of baccalaureates conferred while addressing major concerns regarding finances. In Texas, Governor Rick Perry hopes to push bills requiring a tuition freeze at public colleges and universities to prevent further student debt and see fewer applicants feeling locked out of the higher education system. Beyond that, he also aims for $10,000 bachelor’s degrees (for the entire four-year program, including textbooks). Ambitious, to be certain, but one it could very well set a precedent for other states hoping to see an uptick in citizens of all demographics entering and completing college without fear of spending entirely too much for entirely too little payoff.
It may be an old sign of baccalaureate permanence, but it’s a sign of baccalaureate permanence all the same. A study conducted by Georgetown University suggests that workers holding a bachelor’s degree earn up to 84% more in their lifetime than their peers with only a high school diploma. This means an average of about $2.3 million lifetime earnings, compared to $1.3 million. For Ph.D. holders, the number increases to $3.3 million. Regardless of the actual percentage, which obviously varies depending on the industry with which a worker becomes involved, education and business experts commonly accept that salaries and lifetime financial worth escalate along with each level of college degree attained. It’s not likely that bachelor’s degrees will disappear entirely with that sort of research backing them up.
Offering tuition reimbursement for a graduate degree (usually an MBA) is a not-uncommon benefit many of the more privileged companies out there boast, but free bachelor’s have started seeping into the sphere. In San Francisco, Oakland, and Sacramento, an organization known as UniversityNow provides free online baccalaureates (including textbooks and other classroom resources) for qualified city workers. Business stands as the only major offered right now, but success means an expansion in programming meant to invest in local government employees and help them keep their respective regions running as smoothly as possible. It’s interesting stuff that might set a precedent if the initiative proves fruitful in its mission.
Even education purists must admit that online classes — not to mention entire degree plans — left an indelible impression on the industry. “Democritizing” gets bandied about as the adjective summarizing exactly why so many find the option appealing. In general, springing for the online option saves money as well as time, making a college education far more accessible for individuals whose circumstances preclude them from enrolling in traditional institutions. An increase in opportunities means an increase in number of bachelor’s degrees conferred.
Historians generally believe 1432 exists as the birth date of the bachelor’s degree and many of the ceremonial graduation tenets still in use today. If the diploma goes anywhere, chances are it won’t be while we’re still frolicking about in the sunshine and rainbows. The fact that baccalaureates lasted so long probably hinges on its inherent flexibility — while some of its core tenets remain the same, they’ve changed enough over time to earn a permanent spot in the higher education industry. And it doesn’t exactly look like the degree plan harbors any ideas about going all rigid on college students, so probably everyone will be OK in the end.