Many college students’ parents could have started a career with just a high school diploma and a positive attitude. Today, however, University students and employees are becoming more aware of how a college experience can lead to a much more fruitful professional life.

With 68.3 percent of 2011 high-school graduates enrolling in colleges or universities, its becoming harder and harder to deny the significance of an undergraduate degree. A recent article in The New York Times reported that a degree is becoming the norm for jobs such as file clerks, which did not require the degree a decade ago.

Lynne Sebille-White, senior assistant director of employer relations at the University’s Career Center, said a bachelor’s degree from the University demonstrates to employers that students possess skill sets necessary for any job. She added that the fact that students pursue a degree at a top University shows that they are motivated.

“From an employer’s standpoint, they are not as concerned with what the person’s degree is in, or what their major is, they’re more concerned about the skill sets they’ve developed in the classroom, as well as outside the classroom, and how those fit with the nature of the position,” Sebille-White said.

Sebille-White said LSA students make up the majority of visitors at the Career Center. She said the variety of education options offered in a liberal arts degree hone critical thinking skills for students, which appeals to companies hiring graduates.

While access to different subjects is important to developing the different sets of skills, Sebille-White noted that what a student focuses their studies on is crucial to the path.

“The job that pays the most money is not always the best,” Sebille-White said. “Investing time into finding your calling is more rewarding than a paycheck from a job you disdain.”

While many entering the job market complain of the increasing demand for higher education, a trend dubbed “degree inflation” by economists, some students at the University see the undergraduate degree as providing the opportunity to find one’s dream career.

Business senior Laurel Chamberlain said one of the benefits of studying the University is the opportunity to explore unfamiliar interests through classes and student organizations.

“(College) gives you the chance to do things you wouldn’t normally do if you were at a job doing the same thing every day,” Chamberlain said.

Chamberlain said her education also helped her attain competitive internships in fields she was potentially interested in pursuing.

Last summer, Chamberlain interned at L’Oréal, the cosmetics company. She said she enjoyed working at L’Oréal but was glad she started at the internship level because she decided the career path was not something in which she was interested.

Chamberlain said the experience led her to realize her true passion for human resources. She will be working for Capital One after graduation.

Chamberain said she is glad that she pursued an undergraduate degree because it led her to an exciting career path.

“I feel, more than anything, it (makes you) the type of person you become.”

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