Edmonds Military Wire: Is college the answer? Studies suggest no easy road to employment

By Michael Schinder

With employment stagnant and small business loans virtually impossible to obtain, colleges can expect an influx of new recruits this fall – as a matter of fact, a record 590,000 veterans are expected to be enrolled in universities and two-year colleges this fall season under the new GI bill.

That being said, history suggests only a small percentage will make it through the unfamiliar, often daunting college experience (see first video). And even with a college degree, a good number of those under the age of 25 with a bachelor’s degree — 53 percent to be exact — are finding that they are either unemployed or underemployed, meaning living with mom and dad or holding a job that doesn’t even require a degree.

But wait; there is more. According to a Pew Fiscal Analysis study that was conducted several months back, some 35 percent of unemployed college grads, including those with master’s degrees, have been without a job for more than a year…the same rate as unemployed high school dropouts.

Talk about leaving talent on the sidelines. Welcome to a great education, massive debt and no job.

Okay. I’m getting close to violating the family mandate to use my words to “encourage and uplift;” what I just wrote could invoke depression in some. Believe it or not, I’m an advocate for one getting a college education – after all, there is a lot more one walks away with than just book learning after completing the experience. In my case, I walked away with my bride-to-be.

However, the latest results suggestion college may not be such a sure-fix cure-all. So then, what is the answer?

At the end of the day, getting a college degree is a good bet for avoiding unemployment in the first place. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate of college graduates who are at least 25 years old is just 4.1 percent. If you fail to make it out of high school, or choose not to go to college or drop out of college, the odds are against you (13.8 percent of high school dropouts, 8.7 percent of high school graduates, and 7.7 percent of college dropouts are unemployed).

If you are a veteran, The Post-9/11 GI Bill — the latest version of the law first signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt — provides eligible veterans to attend a public college or university for free for four years, as well as receive a monthly housing stipend and up to $1,000 a year for books.

Bottom line: Take advantage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, don’t drop out of college, and be nice to mom so you at least live to the age of 25!

Michael Schindler, Navy veteran, and president of Edmonds-based Operation Military Family, is a guest writer for several national publications, author of the book “Operation Military Family” and “The Military Wire” blog. He is also a popular keynote and workshop speaker who reaches thousands of service members and their families every year through workshops and seminars that include  “How to Battle-Ready Your Relationship” or “What Your Mother-in-Law Didn’t Tell You.”  He received the 2010 Outstanding Patriotic Service Award from the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.

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