Higher Education Can Pay Off for a Lifetime

An MBA, for instance, can help the right person become even more successful by teaching a complete business vocabulary, offering access to new career opportunities, developing leadership skills and greatly enhancing professional networks, explains Jon McBride, co-founder of the Jungle Media Group, a career and lifestyle magazine company in New York.

Adds Heath, "Think of education as an insurance policy. Unless you open your own business and it takes off, you're going to be working for a company. And education works in the workplace."

Take This Job and Keep It

A higher level of education not only tends to make finding a job easier, it helps retain a job, especially in trying economic times, according to Ronald Bird, EPF's chief economist.

Someone who finishes a degree is more likely to have job security and find jobs more easily, he adds.

In fact, EPF data shows that the demand for highly skilled personnel has grown by half a million people in 2001, despite the mild recession. And, the unemployment rate for all degree holders has stayed under 3 percent, far lower than the 5.9 percent national average.

The findings don't surprise experts. "If there are no jobs in banking, for instance, an MBA will also help you get a job in government, non-profit work, etc.," explains McBride.

Moreover, McBride says that when his magazine surveyed MBA alums in the marketplace, they reported that in good times and bad, their professional and personal networks — often built while getting degrees — are key to finding jobs.

As important is the ability for students to get a taste of their career options through internships.

"An internship is a great way to figure out whether you'll be able to make a career out of your course of study," says Franek. "Think of how much time and money you can save by finding out either that you love your area of study, you should find a different interest or that you should go to graduate school to hone in your talents," he adds.

In the final analysis, says Bird, it is often simply that a graduate has gone the full route of completing a degree that is most attractive to employers.

Adds Heath, "Beside learning a new skill set, graduates prove that they know how to pursue a course of action and deliver on it. There's real credibility in that."

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