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ABOR report says Arizona grads earn 22K more than high school grads

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Simon Asher | The Daily Wildcat

University of Arizona Graduates pose before the 153rd Annual UA Commencement on May 12. The Arizona Board of Regents issued a report detailing how much more a college graduate stands to make during their career when compared to an average high school graduate.

​The​ ​Arizona​ ​Board​ ​of​ ​Regents​ ​released​ a​ ​recent​ ​report​ ​comparing the​ ​wages​ ​of college​ ​graduates​ ​and​​ ​high​ ​school​ ​graduates​ ​in​ ​the​ ​state​ ​of​ ​Arizona.​ ​According​ ​to​ ​ABOR,​ ​a​ ​college​ ​graduate earns​ ​about​ ​$22,000​ ​more​ ​than​ ​an individual​ ​with​ ​only​ ​a​ ​high​ ​school​ ​diploma.

The survey​ ​was​ ​taken​ ​at the​ ​three​ ​public​ ​universities​ ​in​ ​Arizona: ​University​ ​of​ ​Arizona,​ ​Arizona State​ ​University​ ​and​ ​Northern​ ​Arizona​ ​University.​ ​

The gap is continuing to widen. In 2007, students with undergraduate degrees earned 70 percent more in median wages than high school graduates. In 2015, that gap had increased to 82 percent.

Dan​ ​Anderson,​ ​​director​ ​of​ ​institutional​ ​analysis for the board,​ ​said​ ​​the​ ​reason​ ​the​ ​report​ ​wasn’t​ ​done sooner​ ​was​ ​simply​ ​because​ ​of a​ ​lack​ ​of​ ​information.​ ​In​ ​order​ ​to​ ​complete​ ​the​ ​annual​ ​report​,​ ​social​ ​security​ ​numbers​ ​were​ ​needed.

“The​ ​coverage​ ​of​ ​students​ ​who​ ​graduated​ ​is​ ​not​ ​high​ ​enough​ ​quality," Anderson said.​ "​There’s​ ​no​ ​other reason.​ ​In​ ​1990,​ ​it​ ​was​ ​a​ ​lack​ ​of​ ​data.”

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The report states that UA undergraduates made approximately $3,000 less in median wages than the other two Arizona universities’ undergraduates. However, UA students with graduate degrees made approximately $2,000 more than the other two Arizona universities’ graduate students.

These statistics may not be as alarming for UA students as they seem. 

“In general, wages are higher in the Phoenix metropolitan area than in Tucson," said Julie Newberg, director of communications for the board. "And in general, wages in the Tucson metropolitan area are higher than in the rural counties of Arizona, so where a student looks for employment has an impact on earnings.”

The variation between the wages of students from the UA and the other two Arizona universities is caused more by the location of work than the university the student graduated from. 

​So why​ ​is​ ​the number​ ​between​ ​graduates​ ​and​ ​high​ ​school​ ​graduates​ ​so​ ​different?​ ​Anderson explained​ ​that​ ​for​ ​many​ ​jobs​ ​in​ ​today’s​ ​world,​ ​a​ ​college​ ​degree​ ​is​ ​required.​ 

​"​Independence​ ​in​ ​positions​ ​require​ ​more​ ​than​ ​a​ ​high​ ​school​ ​education,​ ​and [they also require]​ ​good communication​ ​skills,​ ​those​ ​kind​ ​of​ ​qualities​ ​you​ ​get​ ​in​ ​college​ ​students," Anderson said. "​Employers​ ​pay​ ​for productivity​ ​and​ ​higher​ ​efficiency​ ​for​ ​the​ ​wages​ ​they​ ​give​ ​out."  

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This report also includes information on employment rates of graduates and undergraduates from the Arizona universities. The report states: "For resident undergraduates, nearly 75 percent are employed following graduation. ... For resident graduate students, over 72 percent are employed following graduation.” 

While the increased earnings are already an encouragement to attend and graduate from an Arizona university, a Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce report estimates that by 2020, 68 percent of all jobs in Arizona will require some form of post-secondary education.

Veterinary science senior ​Cindy​ ​Chon ​gave​ ​an​ ​inside​ ​perspective​ ​on​ ​why​ ​she​ ​believes she​ ​wouldn’t​ ​be​ ​able​ ​to​ ​accomplish​ ​her​ ​occupation​ ​with​ ​only​ ​a​ ​high​ ​school​ ​education:​ ​

“​In most​ ​high​ ​schools,​ ​I​ ​feel​ ​like​ ​they​ ​don’t​ ​offer​ ​programs​ ​or​ ​classes​ ​involving​ ​veterinary​ ​science and​ a​ ​lot​ ​of​ ​different​ ​fields," she said. ​"So​ ​you​ ​get​ ​a​ ​lot​ ​more​ ​specific​ ​for​ ​what​ ​you​ ​want​ ​to​ ​do​ ​instead​ ​of​ ​this broad​ ​education​ ​that​ ​you​ ​get​ ​in​ ​high​ ​school,​ ​and​ ​I​ ​think​ ​that​ ​really​ ​does​ ​make​ ​a​ ​difference​ ​in​ ​the job​ ​you​ ​want​ ​to​ ​do.”


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