Work experience can supplement higher education

Many professionals believe that ideally students should gain work experience while completing a college degree.
Many professionals believe that ideally students should gain work experience while completing a college degree.

During a troubled economy, many people find themselves wondering whether they should pursue higher education or get work experience in order to land a position in the industry of their choosing.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, individuals who have degrees tend to have the lowest rates of unemployment. In 2009, the unemployment rate for high school graduates was about 14.6 percent, while college degree holders saw a rate of 4.6.

Still, many academic experts now say that individuals should not believe that they can only pick one option between earning a degree and entering the workforce. The ideal situation, they say, would be to get work experience while completing higher education.

George Kuh, the director of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment, told The Chronicle of Higher Education that students who work during college gain valuable skills, such as teamwork and time management. If students hold jobs in an industry that they are studying in school, working can also supplement classroom learning, he said.

Similarly, a degree may be meaningless without work experience, Financial Edge recently reported. For example, if a person earned a degree in healthcare 30 years ago but has never worked in the industry, it may be challenging to find a position in the field.

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