The Class of 2017: Will my degree be worth it?

What does the class of ’17 look like? For starters, it isn’t getting any smaller.

This year, Georgia State accepted more women than men for a total of 6,567 students in this year’s class of 2017.

Recently labeled a “Next Generation University” by the New America Foundation, Georgia State, beginning to take a more progressive approach towards the college experience, accepted 85 percent of all students who applied, while 75 percent of the freshman class ranked in the top 50 percent of their high school, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics.

Incoming Freshman Devon Klloran says the figures are indicative of Georgia State’s growing reputation.

“Georgia State is becoming more of a prominent university,” she said. “The school is attracting a wider range of people.”

Klloran adds that one of the reasons she chose to be a Panther was Georgia State’s downtown location.

“I’d like to have enough work experience to get into graduate school so I can be prepared,” she said. “You really can’t get a job unless you go to graduate school.”

She also added that a bachelor’s degree is the new normal and that student must now further their education to be more desirable in the workforce.

And she may be right.

Offering 100 fields of study and 250 programs throughout eight different colleges, Georgia State is graduating 80 percent of its incoming students within five years and 70 percent of students who decide to attend graduate school are being employed within six months of graduating, according to research by NCES.

As rising tuition and student loan debt rates continue to increase amidst a slow economic recovery, the value of a degree from Georgia State is changing as well, leading the incoming class of ’17 to ask – what will my degree be worth?

Rachel Tamas, currently undeclared, says she will hopefully be accepted into Georgia State’s nursing program once she graduates.

There, she plans to transition from her degree into a career, not a job.

“Students now think of getting a degree for a job,” she said. “Instead of getting a degree for a career.”

After graduating from Georgia State (hopefully within four years), Tamas wants to go to nursing school and become a registered nurse, a profession that is seeing increasing salaries the past couple of years to around $65,950 in 2011, according to a report by

A current recipient of the HOPE and Zell-Miller scholarship, Tamas will have to make sure she keeps her grades up, or join the majority of students (70 percent) who lose HOPE throughout their college career, according to Federal Student Aid.

If it wasn’t for my scholarships, I would not be going to Georgia State,” she said.

If all goes as planned, Tamas will be out of nursing school by 2020, a year that will hopefully see students filling in much needed STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) degrees and careers as the nations beings to benefit from a rich economic recovery, according to the Economic Forecasting Center.

But for now, Tamas and Klloran will have to buckle up for a bumpy ride as tuition rates and student loan debts continue to loom over the heads of Georgia State students.

Their short-term goals are deciding on the right major, enrolling in the correct class and getting involved at Georgia State.

“One of the reasons I chose State was because of the diversity,” Klloran said. “It reminds me of where I grew up.”

Like the rest of us, she hopes that she will not get lost her first day of school, that she will be on time for all of her classes and that she will graduate with a degree that’s worth it.

But for now says Klloran, a degree is merely worth staying in school.