College degree should be priority

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In America, having a college education is important.

You’ll typically make more money than a person who did not graduate from college.

You’ll typically get selected for jobs over someone who did not earn a bachelor’s degree.

And in this country, we preach about how important higher education is.

From a money standpoint, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, workers 18 years and older with bachelor’s degrees earn an average of $51,206 a year, while those with a high school diploma earn just $27,915.

And workers with an advanced degree earn an average of $72,602.

But having a college education goes beyond income.

Typically, the more educated a community is, the less crime there is and the more civic participation there is within a city.

But from a pure educational standpoint, is it even necessary to have a college education to hold a prestigious job?

In Wisconsin, it appears its citizens do not feel a college degree is needed in order to be the leader of this state.

A little more than two weeks ago, Republican Scott Walker was elected to be Wisconsin’s next governor during the midterm elections.

Walker has plenty of experience, having served as Milwaukee’s County Executive since 2002. And before that, he spent almost nine years in the Wisconsin State Assembly.

So while few can argue with his political résumé within the state and his knowledge on what Wisconsin needs in order to  move forward, some could question whether he’s contradicting himself when he says education is important.

That’s because he never finished his own degree at Marquette University and never received a diploma from a higher institution.

During the governor’s race, Walker released a letter from Marquette that showed he attended the Jesuit University in Milwaukee from 1986 through 1990 but still needed at least 36 credits to graduate.

Regardless of dropping out of college, Walker has been working in politics since and is now the face of this state.

However, this goes against exactly what we are taught from an early age.

It’s instilled in us that after graduating from high school one simply takes the next step and goes to college.

After four or five years, that person will then graduate and find a job in their particular area of interest.

When it comes to politics, however, a degree and most specifically, a law degree, is the norm.

Before the Nov. 2 midterm elections, only three of the nation’s 50 governors did not have a college degree.

Moreover, the last Wisconsin governor to not have a college degree was Republican Walter S. Goodland (1943-47), some 60 years ago.

But now, in 2010, I thought education is needed to hold jobs such as a governor, a lawyer, a teacher or a journalist.

The whole point of going to college is learning how to master that particular trade.

Maybe this isn’t the case anymore and maybe simply having experience within a field without having classroom knowledge is more important these days.

While an internship and getting real-life experience is important, a degree should be too.

Or should I have dropped out of college this summer, one year before I’m expected to graduate, and expected to land a job?

Will the diploma even matter, because even a lot of people who have degrees are not employed?

A diploma should matter and the fact that Walker did not have a degree was barely brought up on the campaign trail by Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who has a law degree from UW-Madison.

Still, Barrett, a democrat, was crushed by Walker in the race, and probably didn’t want to hold this against Walker because of possibly alienating voters who didn’t have a college degree.

Nonetheless, it should have been more of an issue during the race, because education is essential in our society.

And education in Wisconsin, particularly Milwaukee, is lagging, as it ranks 47th out of 50 of the largest cities in college-educated adults.

This should be alarming, because education, especially a college degree, should be more important in Wisconsin.