So, yesterday I was talking to my cousin, an 18-year-old black woman, who announced that she was officially dropping out of college.

“It’s just not for me,” she declared.

As an older family member, with a college degree, who still struggles to find steady work, I looked at her sideways and tried my best to explain to her that today’s economic world and job market is no place for a high school graduate. Heck, even college graduates are having a hard time finding employment! My pleas fell on deaf ears. By the end of the conversation, she still maintained that she would just have to find another path to success.

Recent information released by CNN.com on employment prospects for non-degree holding individuals seeking work may change her mind– and anyone else’s who is trying to be gainfully employed.

According to the data collected since the 2008 Great Recession, a great share of the new jobs created have gone to Bachelor’s Degree holders:

“Of the 11.6 million jobs created after the Great Recession, 8.4 million went to those with at least a bachelor’s degree, according to a new report from the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University. Another 3 million went to those with associate’s degrees or some college.”

That means that a mere 80,000 of those recently created jobs were landed by those who only graduated high school. Those are pretty depressing numbers, especially considering the fact that up until the 1980s, 70 percent of the workforce was comprised of high school graduates. Those numbers are now closer to 30-40 percent, a sharp decrease.

These stats are exacerbated by the job losses during the Great Recession, which had its greatest impacts on non-degree holding workers:

“The Great Recession hit hard those who never went to college, and they have not recovered. Of the 7.2 million jobs lost between December 2007 and January 2010, 5.6 million were for workers with no more than high school diplomas. They’ve only recovered 1% of those losses over the past six years.”

This means that the job prospects for those who have no higher education are pretty poor and there are no signs of that getting better in the years to come. With most manufacturing jobs shipped overseas, blue-collar opportunities are in steady decline and for many of the service jobs which once only required a high school diploma, college degrees have become normal expectations.

In truth, contrary to my cousin’s belief, college is for everybody who cares to be gainfully employed. A degree is no longer just a privilege, it has become a basic prerequisite.

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