College Degrees Are Still More Valuable, And Cobb County Will Capitalize

A mortarboard graduation cap and a rolled-up degree

By John A. Tures, Professor of Political Science, LaGrange College

Several states, including Georgia, no longer require college degrees for government jobs. Some businesses have done the same for hiring. This led Business Insider to claim “Democrats, Republicans, and companies all seem to agree: college degrees aren’t the future.” They’re wrong. And Cobb County is poised to benefit from the continued power of a degree.

College degrees still very much matter. My students and I frequently research earnings from college graduates and non-college graduates. It’s about a million dollars over one’s lifetime, in favor of the college graduates, and that involved making it tougher on college graduates (starting earnings later, not working during college, etc.). When it comes to graduate school earnings, it’s not even close. And you can’t go to graduate school without graduating from college first.

For unemployment numbers, the data heavily favors college graduates as well. And when you look at other factors (marriage, investing habits, a variety of other social factors), the college degree is very much worth it, no matter what the misleading business headline says.

AAC&U surveys puncture the myth about a college degree not mattering. “According to AAC&U’s newest employer research, 82% of business executives and 75% of hiring managers believe that it is very important or essential to complete a college education. 88% of business executives and 85% of hiring managers also believe that college degrees are worth the time and effort necessary to graduate.”

Harvard Business Review researched the issue, and found “Each company we studied had recently announced the elimination of degree requirements companywide. What we found, however, was that in practice they all continue to make higher than average demands for college degrees. Oracle, for example, requires degrees in well over 90% of the IT postings we sampled, including all of its network administrators.” While IBM and Accenture lowered their percentage of jobs requiring a college degree, Google, Facebook, HP, Apple, and the others surveyed kept their demands for the degree high.

So even though some employers are not requiring college degrees, the employers clearly want college graduates. Then why are states (blue ones too, not just red and purple ones) ditching college degrees as requirements?

They have no choice. More than 62% of Americans over the age of 25 lack a college degree. Years, even decades of less funding, have depressed the percentage of Americans with a college degree. Whereas once America led, even dominated in that category (percentage of the adult population with a higher education degree), that’s no longer the case. Our huge lead has dwindled to a fourth-place finish, only a percentage point ahead of New Zealand. Powerful companies used to seek out the USA for its college population; perhaps that will also decline.

Luckily, Cobb County can capitalize on the continued value of a college degree. Most know about Kennesaw State University, but there are another 20 colleges in the county, making the county fourth in Georgia for most colleges per square mile and 44th of 159 for colleges per capita. With almost half of Cobb County’s adult population having a college degree (well above average), and more than 90% graduation rate from high school, the potential for the region’s education talent is even greater.

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia. His views are his own. He can be reached at His Twitter account is JohnTures2.