"I may have to reach out across some different states or maybe elsewhere around the country to get that initial position before I get back," he said. As for the market, "there's just a lot of people who've been out there a little bit longer, out of school longer, and have more experience than myself."
While higher degrees generally translate into higher earnings, there are wide variations across fields of study and careers, and students have to factor debt into the equation if they need to borrow for tuition. According to Georgetown University researchers, roughly 30 percent of associate's degree recipients earn more than people with bachelor's degrees. Those with mere certificates in engineering earn roughly 20 percent more than the average generic bachelor's degree recipient.
A recent study by The Project on Student Debt found that two-thirds of the college class of 2011 nationally finished school with loan debt, and those who borrowed owed on average $26,600 — up about 5 percent from the class before. Still, most experts insist that while a bachelor's degree doesn't necessarily pay off with a first job, it eventually more than does so, in hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional lifetime earnings.
A major part of that is simply staying employed: For those 25 and older, the unemployment rate for those with a college degree is now just 3.8 percent. For those with some college or an associate degree it's 6.9 percent, and for those with just a high school diploma it's 8.4 percent.
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