Why Is a College Degree Important to Employers?

Bashar Hanna
4 min readFeb 13, 2024

Are you debating whether a university degree will really help you in the job market? Granted, a post-secondary education is costly and takes a few years or more to complete when you could be earning an income.

However, delaying your entry into the working world to pursue a college degree is really worth your time and effort. Read on to find out why more employers are interested in hiring university graduates.

By the numbers

A 2017 study by Harvard Business School found that job postings over a three-year period (2007 to 2010) requiring a bachelor’s degree increased by 10%. This minimal qualification wasn’t actually linked to any particular duties or responsibilities of the positions; rather, it was simply a mandatory credential used to help screen desirable candidates.

According to an employability report produced by the American Association of Colleges and Universities, 62% of employers think that new hires must have a college degree. Furthermore, the majority of hiring managers and business executives, 75% and 82% respectively, believe that graduating from a university is needed to succeed professionally.

Job readiness

The above research by Harvard determined that employers judge college graduates to be more “job ready” than those without a higher education. Achieving a university degree requires diligence and perseverance. It shows potential employers that you can plan thoughtfully for your future, deferring the instant gratification of a paycheck for the longer-term promise of a desired career.

Completing a post-secondary program illustrates that you have a level of maturity and can be a responsible employee. Achieving such a difficult goal suggests you will have no trouble coming to work on time, meeting deadlines, and learning the job.

Competencies

Job readiness is also evidenced by the type of competencies university graduates demonstrate. In short, hiring managers assess graduates as having a greater number of both hard and soft skills than individuals without a college degree.

Hard skills differ depending on the particular occupation. Soft skills are the common attributes necessary in any field, such as verbal communication, relationship building, and working cooperatively with colleagues. Following, we’ll unpack the four most important soft skills and why employers view them as necessary.

1. Problem solving

Institutions of higher learning teach students to think critically and work out solutions to problems. Good grades typically depend on the ability to research a subject in enough depth to confidently present your findings with strong analysis and a reasonable conclusion. University graduates are used to seeking help from their professors and discussing options with peers in the pursuit of understanding assignments and resolving related problems.

To future employers, this indicates these individuals can handle themselves well in the workplace and won’t be fazed by unexpected issues. They are apt to approach problems in a calm and logical manner, focused on finding a solution.

2. Teamwork

Individuals attending university are expected to work closely with classmates in various ways. They may be assigned to a group project or be placed in a position where they have to mentor or guide another student. Learning how to listen well, give weight to diverse viewpoints, accept a share of responsibility, respect others, and sort through any conflicts that arise develops an invaluable skillset for one’s career.

There’s no question that a cornerstone of a prosperous company is strong teamwork. Employees have to come to a mutual understanding about how a task is best completed, fairly delegating work and giving each staff member a voice. The team may be called upon to formally present their work at department meetings or collaborate on a written paper. The coordination involved in meeting these responsibilities is not unlike what is taught at college.

3. Communication

A post-secondary education comes with many opportunities to hone one’s ability to communicate effectively. This includes verbally exchanging thoughts and ideas with classmates, asking and answering questions of professors, explaining concepts and research in writing and giving in-person presentations to the class.

No matter what the occupation, there is a need to communicate clearly and constructively with others. You must be able to make yourself understood with colleagues and supervisors alike and also listen to fully appreciate what they’re saying. Hiring managers often seek college graduates, knowing they’re more inclined to be good communicators.

4. Results orientation

The final competency university graduates have had the opportunity to practice at school is achieving results. Courseloads can be demanding and deadlines tight. Students have to develop proper work habits and approach their studies with the right attitude to succeed.

In the eyes of hiring managers, attaining a four-year degree is no small feat. It shows a strong work ethic and a drive to accomplish an often-daunting goal. This is the type of person they want to recruit.

In closing

To sum it up, most employers are of the opinion that university graduates are more job ready, strong team players, good communicators, oriented towards results, and able to problem solve. This is all to say that a degree will be an asset for the job hunt.

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Bashar Hanna

Dr. Bashar Hanna has spent nearly four years as the president and chief executive officer of Pennsylvania’s Bloomsburg University.