A few years ago, I asked myself a question that millions of American adults ask themselves every year. Should I go to graduate school to improve my career options?
Apparently, I answered the question similar to the rest of the nation. Pursuing a graduate degree just wasn’t worth the investment.
This trend is evident based on the latest National Center for Education Statics (NCES) report in May 2020. Graduate enrollments have stayed steady at around 3 million students each year since 2010.
And it’s easy to understand why — just look at the costs.
Most graduate programs cost around $30,000 a year. In places like New York City, where the City University of New York colleges heavily discount their programs, graduate programs still cost $20,000. And for what?
Many programs are disconnected from their fields of study because of how quickly technology is changing. Additionally, millennials are still trying to pay off their loans from their undergraduate degree. So, where are these potential graduate students getting their professional education?
For-profit companies and professional network organizations are quickly filling up the space that College’s and Universities used to occupy for graduate studies. They can offer up-to-date training at a fraction of the cost of a graduate degree.
In August 2020, Google announced that they are offering a Career Certificate program. Students looking to advance or change their careers can pay a nominal fee for a certificate that proves they know how to conduct their work. Compared to a graduate or undergraduate degree, the price could be 100%-1000% less than a graduate degree. Google’s programs range from IT Support, Project Management, UX Design, and Data Analyst.
You might be asking, “How much is Google’s certificate program?” It’s $49 per month.
While Google’s announcement made a splash in the national news, certificate programs were already snowballing. You can become a certified Human Resource professional through the Society of Human Resources (SHRM) for those in Human Resources. Or, those in Human Resources can tweak their career change by becoming certified in training tools like DiSC.
These types of certifications range from $500 to $4,000 and the provide tools and training that companies are looking to use today.
The point is, graduate programs haven’t shown that the degree is worth the investment. The pandemic has demonstrated that colleges and universities aren’t able to pivot towards what is needed today in education. For institutions that are supposed to think and solve problems, the apparent lack of fortitude was evident as many colleges shut down due to the virus’s resurgent cases.