According to a 2014 Pew Research report, Millennialsthose born after 1980are the best-educated generation in the history of the United States. More than one-third have bachelor’s degrees, compared to one in four of their parents and grandparents.
This statistic may surprise many readers, considering the exponential increase in the cost of education during that period. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, a graduate in 1979 incurred less than $10,000 in education costs (in 2012 dollars), including room and board. By contrast, according to CollegeData, a 2013 graduate spent almost $120,000 for the same degree and owed more than $33,000 in school debt as of graduation.
In an effort to stem the rising costs of higher education, colleges, universities, and for-profit institutions have turned to technology. Many now offer online classes, bachelor’s degrees, and even master’s degrees in which some or all work is done over the Internet. According to a Pew Research Report, 90% of public four-year colleges and universities and 60% of private universities offer courses online. And in 2011, one-third of all students were enrolled in an online course.
Perception of an Online Degree
The question of whether an online degree has less value than a traditional degree has smoldered for years. While online courses certainly have advantages and disadvantages as compared to their traditional counterparts, employer “gatekeepers” – receptionists, HR recruiters, and resume screeners – tend to be most concerned about the reputation and quality of the educational institution.
During the last five years of my father’s life, he began a series of letters and memos to my younger brother and me about his life. Dad was not a famous man, nor a particularly accomplished man – at least, not by standard measures of success. Nevertheless, his letters chronicling a childhood during the Depression in the midst of the Dust Bowl, his experiences as a infantryman on the battlefields of Europe, and life in the 1950s were an incredible record of an extraordinary life and time in the history of America.
After his death, his writing was collected, organized chronologically for easier reading, and bound together for each member of the family, an incomparable legacy to his grandchildren and their descendants. As his son, I take great comfort in knowing that Dad will be remembered as a good husband, father, and friend for generations to come.
As my father used to say, “We come into and go out of this world alone, but the quality of our lives depends upon the people we touch along the way.” Blood and bones, and stones and steel eventually fade into nothingness, but the love between parents and children, siblings, and spouses endures forever. It is the stories of love that remind us who we are and why we are here.
Everyone has a story and an audience eager to read, enjoy, and remember the details of each narrative. Writing your autobiography is an opportunity to reach across the boundaries of time and space, set the record straight, honor the ones you love, and celebrate the journey you have taken. It is the chance to create your own time capsule; an opportunity to leave your handprints on the walls of human existence, and to shout to the world, “I was here and I mattered!”