Success Without a College Degree

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Can You Be Successful Without a College Degree?

After decades of growth, total college enrollment is falling
Total US College Enrollment*
1947: 2.3 million (1.6%)
2011: 20.4 million (6.5%)
2016: 19.2 million (5.9%)

Is higher education still the best route to success?

Redefining Success

78% of adults agree that it’s getting harder for young people to “get started in life”

According to young adults, the biggest obstacles they face are:
Finances: 37%
Education: 25%
Career: 20%

Nearly half of Gen Zers consider financial independence the first marker of adulthood

Does Education Bring Financial Success?

For nearly all careers, wages have risen over the past 70 years
Skilled laborers, without a degree, are making more than 3x more today
BUT, for careers requiring an advanced degree, wages have less than doubled

Annual Earnings, 1947*-2017
Construction
1947: $13,186
2017: $44,730
Telecommunications
1947: $12,036
2017: $53,380
Lawyer
1947: $84,000
2017: $119,250
Doctor
1947: $121,148
2017: $208,000

At the same time, the cost of an advanced degree has grown more than 8x,
Law School Tuition*, 1948-2018
1948-1949: $3,338*
2018-2019: $26,864*

For many, milestones on the road to success are getting harder to achieve

Rethinking the American Dream

Starting a Family
Most American adults* define themselves by their family
American families are getting smaller

Average family size
1948: 3.64 people
2017: 2.14 people

People are having fewer children
Children* per family
1948: 1.19 children
2017: 0.88 children

Fewer American adults are getting married
Households including married couple
1948: 79%
2017: 48%

Many adults are choosing to live with friends instead of family
Non-family households
1948: 10%
2017: 34%

The Ideal American Luxuries

With more Americans living alone, everyday luxuries are harder to afford

Most Americans want more:
Vacation time
Technology
Restaurant dinners

Owning A Home

In 1940, the average home cost $2,938 一 That’s equal to $52,976 today
Rent, on average, cost $27 一 Or $487 today
Since then, housing prices have soared

Today, the median home value is $220,100 一 4x the typical home in 1940
Rent has risen to $1,650 一 More than 3x what it once was
As rent continues to skyrocket, apartments are getting smaller 一 8% smaller over the last decade

The Ideal American Home:
To feel successful, Americans want a house 2x as valuable as their current home
On average, Americans want
4 bedrooms
3 bathrooms
$408,584 value

Rising tuition costs and mounting student debt have prompted more Americans to consider other options

Reconsidering College

Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 (The G.I. Bill)
Covered tuition and expenses totaling over $4 billion dollars
From 1944-49, allowed 9 million veterans to attend college or trade school

Over the past 70 years, Undergraduate tuition* has grown more than 4x
Annual undergraduate tuition and fees 一 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
1948-1949: $1,092*
2018-2019: $4,493

Today, young adults who want an education need student loans
2 in 3 who get a bachelor’s degree go into debt
Less than half of those getting a non-degree certificate go into debt

In 2018, Americans’ total student debt hit $1.5 trillion

Embracing Alternatives

In 1945-46 just 156,000 Americans attended 2 year college programs

In 2016,
5.28 million attended 2-year colleges
939,000 received a non-degree certificate
999,000 received an associate’s degree

In 2017, 88% of new grads say they considered job availability before selecting their major 一 Yet, 54% consider themselves underemployed

College or Career?

Choosing a Major
Nurses and Engineers are most likely to earn high wages and see low unemployment

Below-average unemployment
Nursing, general education, mechanical engineering

Above-average earnings
STEM fields, nursing, economics, accounting, political science

From 1946 to 2017, wages for engineers grew over 14.5x ─ From $5,457* to $79,180

In 2016, only 6% of newly awarded Bachelor’s degrees were in engineering

Fast Growing Non-Degree Careers, Median Salary $35,000 to $54,999

Many of today’s fastest growing careers don’t require a degree at all:
Optician
Plumber
Dental assistant
HVAC technician
Alternative energy technician

Learn from history! Consider the job market before choosing college or a career

Success without a college Degree

Sources:
https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/school-enrollment/cps-historical-time-series.html
https://www2.census.gov/library/publications/2004/compendia/statab/123ed/hist/hs-02.pdf?#
https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/school-enrollment/cps-historical-time-series.html
https://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?pid=PEP_2017_PEPANNRES&src=pt
http://heartlandmonitor.com/how-younger-americans-are-redefining-success/
https://www.barna.com/research/is-gen-z-the-most-success-oriented-generation/
https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uiug.30112104053548;view=2up;seq=4;size=125
https://www.bls.gov/ooh/home.htm
https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.b4088194;view=2up;seq=234
https://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/top-law-schools/articles/2018-03-21/understand-the-cost-payoff-of-law-school-before-getting-a-jd
https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/families/households.html
https://www.discover.com/credit-cards/resources/the-american-idea-of-success/?html
https://www.census.gov/hhes/www/housing/census/historic/values.html
https://www.census.gov/hhes/www/housing/census/historic/grossrents.html
https://www.zillow.com/home-values/
https://www.rentcafe.com/blog/rental-market/us-average-apartment-size-trends-downward/
https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/gi-bill
https://cashier.unc.edu/files/2018/07/18_19YR.pdf
https://www.federalreserve.gov/publications/2018-economic-well-being-of-us-households-in-2017-student-loans.htm
https://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/g19/HIST/cc_hist_memo_levels.html
https://nces.ed.gov/pubs93/93442.pdf
https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=51
https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_sbc.asp
https://www.bls.gov/ooh/occupation-finder.htm
https://www.accenture.com/us-en/insight-gen-z-rising

Can You Be Successful Without a College Degree?