In previous generations, it used to be that a man (women were routinely reduced to stay-at-home mothers) could earn an adequate salary to support their growing family of 2-3 children, his spouse, and even a pet all without having to obtain a college degree.

That means that you could have the “American Dream” of the small house with the white picket fence, a new moderately priced vehicle, and even take your family on a vacation once or twice a year. Again, all without having stepped foot on a college campus.

However, things have completely changed and the days of a decent salary without a college degree have all but vanished without a trace.

Millennials are currently the largest generation in the U.S. making up over one-third of the population. Unlike their parents and grandparents where only 46% of the Baby Boomers had a college education, Millennials may be the most educated group in American history with well over 61% who have attended college.

The looming question is what happened over the course of a few decades that has made having a college degree such a crucial step in one’s career process? Over the course of 50 years, there are multiple factors that have caused a large shift in the U.S. economics and competition. Yet, there is one factor that is more than likely the biggest and probably most important and that is technology.

Technology has changed the nature of many industries and the positions that are held within them. Positions that once traditionally only required a high school diploma with a few years of experience now calls for a four-year bachelor’s degree.

For example, take positions like a Secretary or Administrative Assistant. For Baby Boomers to excel in this position they may have only needed strong organizational skills, typing, filing and to know how to answer a telephone. Now in order to make travel arrangements you need to know how to navigate different software applications. As for filing, more offices are becoming paperless so you need to know how to upload and access documents on a computer’s shared drive.

In some cases, you cannot even get an interview without a degree on your resume as the minimum requirement for an average entry-level job is now a bachelor’s degree.

While all of this can sound like a bit of a drawback, it is actually a bonus having attained your college degree. Overall, having a college degree shows that you have discipline, drive and that you can commit, complete and accomplish a challenge. Which in today’s leisure approach to life it is a strong attribute to possess.

Although things have changed dramatically with one needing a college degree to find a job, getting a college degree has become a much easier, attainable process. You can start by getting your bachelor’s degree in 18 months when previously it would take someone on average 4-5 years to complete. Before you make any decisions, make sure to research each university thoroughly and the programs that they are offering. Confirm that the institution is accredited by the proper governing boards. The most important thing is that you make a focused plan so that you can reap the benefits of a bright future.

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