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What to Expect in the Real World

Even with a degree in hand and an enthusiastic outlook, you may find yourself disoriented and overwhelmed when you first enter the job market.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you're responsible for earning your own way:


The more you learn, the more you earn.

Earn more than an extra quarter million dollars in your lifetime just by staying in high school and graduating. Easily double that by getting a 2-year associate degree.

More education leads to a bigger paycheck. Learn more.

More education means less unemployment.


In 2009, the unemployment rates based on degree earned were:

•5.2% for a bachelor's degree

•6.8% for an associate's degree

•9.7% or a high school diploma

And college graduates who get laid off generally find work faster than high school graduates do. The reason? More and more in the United States, there are fewer openings in low-skilled, entry-level jobs.

Career choice means a lot.


If you're looking for job security, choose a career in a growing industry. More job opportunities means you'll have more choice—choice of position, choice of work hours, choice of job location.

It goes without saying that your career also determines your salary potential… you're likely to earn more as a medical doctor than as a social worker, even though both require education beyond a bachelor's degree.

Want to find out how much you can expect to earn for the career you are interested in? Visit salary.com.

Where you live is as important as what you do.

When you finally decide to settle down and set up house, where you choose to live can have a huge impact on your income and standard of living.

Salaries for the same job vary geographically. For example, architects in Maryland earn more than architects in Iowa. But in Maryland, rent is higher, gas is more expensive, even food costs more.

Keep this in mind as you explore careers and salaries.

Job benefits go beyond just income.

Your take-home pay is only one component of what an employer will offer you. Employers pay for all sorts of other things that make up your full benefits package, including time off, health care, disability, and retirement, to name a few.

So crunch the numbers and look at the perks. Don't make a career decision based on salary alone.

Speak With an Academic Counselor

Speak with one of our knowledgeable academic counselors who can help you decide what best fits your needs