Question: What is the minimum post-high school education that you think is necessary today to get a good job? Do you think it is worth taking on debt to get more education?

Despite the cost, a college degree remains the key to a good job, according to the people who answered our most recent 1Q survey. Two-thirds of the 200 respondents in the cellphone-based survey consider a college degree the minimum post-high school education needed to find a comfortable spot in the workplace.

“Continuing education increases the chances of getting a better job and consequently, making more money,” a 36-year-old Atlanta woman said when asked whether it was worth going into debt to secure a college degree. “It is an investment that is likely to pay off.”

And during this graduation season, when local colleges and high schools award degrees and diplomas to hundreds of new graduates, others echoed her belief that the extra years of schooling were worth the cost. “In today’s world, it is worth the debt to receive higher education,” a 23-year-old Brookhaven woman with a high-school diploma said.

Not everyone saw it that way, however. About 23 percent of the respondents to the survey of adults across the communities served by Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta INtown thought high school graduates could do well with only two years of college education, a few college courses or no college at all.  “As an executive for a 200-employee company,” a 41-year-old Buckhead man with a high-school education said, “I’ve found that some of the best people have no degree, but rather a great understanding of the subject matter for a given position.”
Then again, about 10 percent thought college wasn’t enough. New graduates, they said, needed at least a master’s degree.

Others questioned the high cost of college, which often requires students or their families to go deeply into debt. “I have recently graduated with my bachelor’s degree,” a 23-year-old Atlanta woman commented. “I think it is crazy how much we have to spend and put ourselves in debt to find a job just to make it. It’s insane that there are no other options than to put ourselves in debt in order to get a job, because to get any decent job today you need at least a bachelor’s degree. I am all about the education, but not being punished financially for receiving it.”

What some respondents had to say:

“Only if that debt can quickly be paid off. The education needs to lead to a job in a field where there is need.”
47-year-old Sandy Springs woman with a master’s degree

“No, work experience is more important.”
61-year-old Sandy Springs  man with a college degree

“No, not unless you are in a specific field that requires it (aka doctor, lawyer, etc.).”
31-year-old Sandy Springs woman with a bachelor’s degree

“Yes, but you need to be strategic and have a career in mind. A degree is only valuable if employers think it is.”
31-year-old Brookhaven man with a master’s degree

“Only if it (debt) is flexible and low interest!”
51-year-old Buckhead man with a bachelor’s degree

“Depends on how much the job you expect to get will pay.”
24-year-old Dunwoody woman with a master’s degree

“No. Success is based on effort, determination and focus, not financial background. Plenty of rich kids who have access to a college education make nothing of it.”
40-year-old Atlanta woman with a master’s degree

“It’s an investment, but only to get a job that can pay it off.”
27-year-old Atlanta man with a graduate degree

1Q is an Atlanta-based startup that has developed a technology which sends questions and surveys to a cellphone via app or text message from businesses and organizations across the country. Respondents are paid 50 cents per answer, through PayPal, for sharing their opinions. Payments may also be donated directly to charity. Sign up to be included in our local community polls at or by texting REPORTER to 86312.

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.