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The Importance of a Post-secondary Education: Is College Worth it?

By DeVry University

Given today’s challenging labor market and high underemployment of recent college graduates - many parents and prospective students are wondering, “Is college still worth it?” 1 (p. 1) Dr. Lynn Burks, Senior Professor of Economics for DeVry University addressed this question in an interview with WGN’s radio talk show host Bill Moller.

The bottom line is a big “Yes” says Burks who spends a lot of time speaking to high school counselors, parents and career changers, arming them with information about “post-secondary journeys.” This theme was confirmed by a January 2014 report from the New York Federal Reserve.  Burks notes that while the labor market is challenging – post secondary education still pays high dividends.1 (p. 6-7)


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “occupations that typically require post-secondary education for entry are expected, on average, to grow faster than occupations that require a high school diploma or less.” 2 (p. 1) Burks comments that students need to be “deep and broad.” Having a technical competency – whether it’s programming, accounting or information systems is key.  However, other skills are also essential – being communicative, having a strong sense of general knowledge (arts, literature), infectious curiosity, basic professional business etiquette – these traits are now required from day one after graduation.  Burks suggests students today need to “have it all” to be competitive.

Burks also wants parents and prospective students to know there are now multiple pathways to prosperity.  While the college labor market is showing modest gains in the sciences, technology, and health care, there is also a demand for two-year degrees and certifications. 2 (T. 7) Burks emphasizes students should consider some of these career pathways as viable noting it is still post-secondary education.  

Burks notes the economy is in 3-5 year cycles.  She advocates that how we prepare students for an ever dynamic economy demands that high schools, career changers and colleges collaborate continuously so prospective students can better arm themselves with the most up-to-date information before they embark on their post-secondary journey. 

Listen to Dr. Burks’ full interview with Bill Moller

Burks received her undergraduate and graduate training at Eastern Illinois University in Economics and Business and Ph.D. from Colorado State University.  She has contributed to over a dozen research projects and received several awards for her efforts including the Biltmore Who’s Who in Leadership in 2007, the Ron Taylor Award at DeVry University in 2009 and 2010, the highly coveted PRIDE Award in 2011 and was a nominee for Professor of the Year for the Carnegie Foundation in 2012, and the Herman DeVry Faculty Award in 2014.


1 - Abel, Jaison R., Richard Deitz, and Yaqin Su. (2014). Are Recent College Graduates Finding Good Jobs?

2 - Bureau of Labor Statistics. (December, 2013). Employment Projections: 2012-2022. Washington, DC: Bureau of Labor Statistics Press Office.