Guest post by Nicole Garrison

The U.S. economy has been faring pretty well in the last year or so.

Its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 1.7% in the last quarter of 2021, capping a really impressive performance last year.

The labor market also seems to be stronger than ever before. The unemployment rate went down to slightly over 4% by the end of 2021, which is the lowest level since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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In December 2021 alone, the U.S. economy added 651,000 new jobs.

Many Americans tend to choose jobs over college.

As the pandemic continued to plague the country, the rate of undergraduate enrolment dropped by approximately 7 percent.

Many students opt for even short-term employment opportunities at the expense of their college education and degrees.

This is an interesting development in a country where high-quality education has always been seen as a safe and assured segue into the labor market.

While the economic implications of the above trends are yet to be ascertained, we take a closer look at the factors that drive students’ decisions to work rather than study.

Shifting priorities and short-term gains

Despite the fact that college graduates continue to earn more, only 51% of Americans consider college as very important or a must to find a high-value job.

This is in sharp contrast to the pre-pandemic years.

For instance, in 2013, more than 70% of adults in the U.S. thought a college education was very important. In addition, the pandemic has really changed the way we work or plan to work.

Compared to the pre-pandemic years, one million fewer students have enrolled in colleges since the onset of COVID-19.

It takes a lot of time, money, and effort to earn a degree, so many students opt for short-term jobs to start earning here and now. They are also less willing to remain focused on a single area of expertise, preferring exposure to a more diverse range of employment opportunities and experiences.

Education can be expensive and lengthy

Education can be extremely expensive. Private universities in the U.S. charge more than $100.00 for a four-year degree. In the last few decades, the cost of a college education has continued to spiral, bumping up students’ debts and inducing them to start thinking about alternatives.

Four years is a long time in today’s fast-changing and super-technological world, and many students do not want to spend that much time on studies without being on top of all the changes and developments affecting the labor market. To save time, many students choose reliable writing services to write the best essay for their college assignments.

Academic studies, however superior, do not necessarily guarantee that students will be ready to join the workforce right in the wake of their graduation. Some students feel that by the time they graduate, their college education might be irrelevant to the needs of prospective employers.


Job Switching

With so many changes affecting people’s education and employment decisions, everyone wants to keep their skills and competencies relevant and in demand. For this reason, many students decide to quit college studies in favor of short-term jobs giving them practical experience and on-the-job training in multiple fields.

It merits mention that only about 27% of college graduates get a job directly related to their major. This indicates that students and graduates are willing to test their abilities in multiple fields.

Job switching is much like code-switching when people use two or more languages in a single conversation to convey substance. Some students feel they need exposure to a diverse range of workstreams to be able to build a holistic and multi-faceted set of skills and competencies.

Pandemic-Driven Opportunities

Against the odds, many companies rebounded very strongly after some initial shocks caused by the pandemic.

For instance, Berkshire Hathaway was able to hire 12,000 new employees including many jobs lost during the pandemic. Others have also become adept at attracting talent online.

While some employers were initially cautious or reluctant to switch to teleworking (due to lack of control over employees’ work hours), many have realized that they don’t need people working in offices to be productive and efficient. This makes many Americans think hard before they decide to choose college over work.

Many students do not want to miss their chance of taking advantage of a host of new job opportunities available online.

Gregory Chapman, a senior analyst at TrustMyPaper, explains: “A lot of students are now using online writing services to complete their college assignments. They make every effort to find a reliable and high-quality service they can trust. This gives them an opportunity to save time, which they can spend on their jobs.”

Remote working had been practiced by some companies before the pandemic, but it really gained currency in the last 3 years as the pandemic has started influencing our perceptions of education and employment.

Final Thoughts

In today’s pandemic-affected world, many Americans think twice before they decide to go for or stick with their college education.

While a top-rated college education is still highly likely to land one a well-paid job, some quit college in favor of immediate, albeit short-term financial gains.

This is an interesting development, which might have arguable pros and cons in terms of economic impact, but it clearly signifies a shift in the Americans’ perception of linkages between education and employment.

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