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Contradictory studies show college is, and isn't, worth it

By Mary Richards | Posted - Mar 6th, 2013 @ 7:00am

SALT LAKE CITY — Some are concerned that college graduates are spending time and money in college, but not getting a job after graduation. For many people, though, college is still the right choice.

A recent study found there are more people now in the U.S. with a college degree than there are jobs available — it's called a grad glut. But Utah Commissioner of Higher Education David Buhler said that doesn't mean people shouldn't get a degree, because other studies show higher income comes with higher education.

"The only thing more expensive than college is not getting an education," he said.

Buhler said employers now show preference to college grads over those with high school diplomas, even for jobs many don't think would need a college degree.

"It's a much more competitive market place than it used to be," he said.

In Utah, the numbers show people with higher education are less likely to experience unemployment. The Feb. 2013 Return on Investment in Higher Education report found all college majors have an increase in income as education goes up.

"If you get a bachelor's degree in arts and humanities, you will earn almost $14,000 more a year than those who just had a high school diploma," Buhler said. And he said majoring in a STEM — Science, Technology, Math and Engineering — field will give students an almost 100-percent increase in income.

Buhler said the data gathered in the report show people with higher levels of education are less likely to experience unemployment, and that the majority of taxes are paid by people who have a higher education.

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