It’s done all the time. In fact, thanks to “degree inflation” one has to have a BA just to get a job interview. It’s another result of excessive supply and reduced demand. And the supply is being provided by schools charging $100,000 to get a BA degree.
There are so many things wrong with this equation one scarcely knows where to begin. Who says you have to get a BA degree? Why is that the standard today? It certainly wasn’t 50 years ago when I went to college. I went because my dad said it was expected of me. He attended the University of Arizona briefly in the early 1930s but didn’t finish, I presume for economic reasons. But he always had it in his mind that his kids were going to college. Besides, George Stanton lived next door to us and George not only was a college graduate, he was a booster of Cornell, where I wound up attending. George even got me an early acceptance with a proviso that I had to make up my mind right away so that other applicants below me wouldn’t be kept waiting.
I had no choice. I went to Cornell. My dad paid for nearly all of it. I got two degrees and one wife. I cherish the latter. The former served only as wallpaper.
Today things are vastly different:
Consider the 45-person law firm of Busch, Slipakoff & Schuh here in Atlanta, a place that has seen tremendous growth in the college-educated population. Like other employers across the country, the firm hires only people with a bachelor’s degree, even for jobs that do not require college-level skills.
What? They only hire people with BA degrees even though the jobs don’t require it? Of course. They use the BA degree as a sorting tool: there are so many applicants for each position the employers have to use some kind of way to cut down the number they will consider for the position. A BA degree is a sorting tool:
“When you get 800 résumés for every job ad, you need to weed them out somehow,” said Suzanne Manzagol, executive recruiter at Cardinal Recruiting Group, which does headhunting for administrative positions at Busch, Slipakoff & Schuh and other firms in the Atlanta area.
But here’s the problem: it costs $100,000 or more to get a BA degree:
“I am over $100,000 in student loan debt right now,” said Megan Parker, who earns $37,000 as the firm’s receptionist. She graduated from the Art Institute of Atlanta in 2011 with a degree in fashion and retail management, and spent months waiting on “bridezillas” at a couture boutique, among other stores, while churning out office-job applications.
“I will probably never see the end of that bill, but I’m not really thinking about it right now,” she said.
Just another example of a distortion in the marketplace caused partly by low-interest student loans and the incorrect perception that a BA degree is a ticket to success.