Post-secondary education may be necessary

According to a recent article in The Chronicle, the “master’s is the new bachelor’s.” Recently, the media has even gone as far as declaring that the bachelor’s is the new high school diploma.

Dr. Vince Brewton, director of the UNA Honors Program and associate professor of English, sheds some light on the media’s claim.

“There is some truth to the idea that a bachelor’s degree ‘means’ about what a high school diploma once meant, particularly if we are comparing the ‘value’ now to the value of a diploma during the boom post-war years,” he said.

However, Brewton notes that there are definitely perks to having a higher degree. As the director of the Honors Program, Brewton sifts through numerous resumes.

“The data shows people with post graduate degrees make more over their lifetimes, and it’s just a fact that many fields now require additional specialization,” he said. “Sometimes, the graduate degree is needed to stand out in an ever-growing pile of resumes as the real unemployment rate climbs toward 17 percent.”

After four years of undergraduate classes, two more years in a classroom are not always ideal for students.

UNA senior Ethan Cagle agrees that there is not one answer to the question of whether to pursue a master’s.

“There are lots of students who graduate with only a bachelor’s and are successful in the job market,” he said. “But, also, the degree opens up doors. It makes you more competitive.”

Melissa Medlin, director of Career Planning and Development, offers a different perspective. She often deals with students who are debating between entering the workforce and continuing their education.

“Getting your master’s is about specializing,” she said. “When I continued my education, I had a purpose. But so many students are saying ‘I can’t get a job, so I may as well go to grad school.’ The question is, are you really gaining knowledge?”

In Medlin’s opinion, life experience can be just as valuable as a degree.

“Just having the education isn’t enough,” she said. “The degree is not a stand-alone. Many students will come out overeducated and under experienced. It’s a competitive market, and students need to hit the ground running.”

Both Brewton and Medlin want to encourage students to make decisions that will have the best outcome and receive an education that will provide a future.

“All in all, education makes a difference in terms of future income and in developing good citizens,” Brewton said.