The value of a college degree has certainly increased over time. A couple of generations ago, a college degree was relevant to only a few fields of industry - medicine, science, teaching, legal, and perhaps a few others - but widespread need was unheard of. Even within some of these fields, often only a few key employees needed a college education.
In today's job market, however, the value of a college degree can hardly be expressed strongly enough.
A quick scan of the jobs section of the local classified ads reveals that, for even entry-level positions, applicants with a college degree are in great demand. In fact, this level of education is required for almost all jobs. An ironic aspect of this particular job qualification is that the college degree program doesn't always have to be in the same field as the job is.
In lieu of a college degree, an applicant may be allowed to apply for a position if he or she can demonstrate a job history that is based strongly on similar work. This type background is usually more successful when transferring to a different department or applying for a promotion with a current employer.
Even with a college degree, some courses of education lead to higher value on the job market. A degree that is useful in all industries, such as a business or accounting major, doesn't limit the applicant to one or two industries as a degree in botanical virology or astrophysics would.
And it's never too late to seek a college degree. Many people get started in college only to put the higher education on hold to focus on a job or family for a while. These interrupted educations can be resumed at any time.
One very interesting view of a college degree was offered several years ago in a popular advice column syndicated throughout the nation. Someone bored and frustrated with his current job asked for an opinion on starting college at the ripe old age of 38 even though there was a family to take care of and bills to pay. His concern was that, after four years of college, he'd be 42 years old.
The reply? Even if he didn't tackle that college degree, in four years, he'd be 42 years old.