The Track: “Schoolin’ Life,” by Beyoncé

The Wonk: Lindsey Tepe, Education Policy Program Associate

The Message: “Who needs a degree when you’re schoolin’ life?” Beyoncé’s track, “Schoolin’ Life,” both revels in living life for the moment and cautions against growing up too fast, but the hook also serves as a tongue-in-cheek reminder of Beyoncé’s exceptional success despite never having attended college.

While Yoncé is doing more than fine without a formal education (her latest album sold over 800,000 copies on iTunes in just three days), for most of us “twenty- and thirty-somethin’s” the need for advanced degrees and credentials has never been greater. That fact was made clear in this month’s Pew Research Center report, The Rising Cost of Not Going to College. The takeaway? Today’s Millennials are facing an economy with the largest disparity between those with and without a degree in the modern era.

To put some numbers on it, Millennials (ages 25-32) with a bachelor’s degree or more earn a median income of $45,500; those with just a high school degree are at $28,000. While only 3.8 percent of four-year college graduates are currently unemployed, that rate more than triples to 12.2 percent for high school graduates. Pew sums up: “On virtually every measure of economic well-being and career attainment […] young college graduates are outperforming their peers with less education.”

It seems that more and more, having a degree might just be a prerequisite for schoolin’ life. (On the plus side, you can earn that degree from Rutgers University and study the “Politicization of Beyoncé”.)

About the Author

Lindsey Tepe
Lindsey Tepe is a program associate in the Education Policy Program at the New America Foundation. She conducts research in support of the Early Education Initiative and the Federal Education Budget Project. She previously conducted research on a number of programs and policies affecting the public work force, with a focus on new media implementation and utilization.