Do you find yourself questioning whether or not a college degree is something you really need? With the way the economy and job market has been in the past 10 years, you’d be sort of crazy if you didn’t. That said, we are extremely passionate about higher education and it’s value to individuals, families and communities. The following are just a few of the more important reasons why a college degree is worth the time, effort, stress and the cost it will require to earn one.
Higher Earning Potential
One of the most important and obvious reasons to earn a college degree is to increase your earning potential. That fact of the matter is, if you obtain a college degree, you’re more likely to earn more money throughout your career than if only have a high school education. According to the United States Census Bureau, individuals achieve the following degree levels earned the following median annual salaries: PhD’s, $100,000 or more; master’s, $63,000; bachelor’s, $55,700; associate’s, $42,000; high school diploma, $32,500. In addition, on average, bachelor’s degree holders earn about $2.3 million over their lifetime, while those with advanced degrees, including master’s, doctoral, and professional degrees earning $2.7 million, $3.2 million and $3.7 million, respectively. However, area of study and career field have a huge impact of annual salary and lifetime earnings. For example, a bachelor’s degree holder that works in management or engineering will usually earn more than someone with a master’s degree who works in education or social work.
Individuals who only finish some college have a lifetime earnings estimate of $1.55 million. And those with a high school diploma can look forward to earning about $1.3 million over their lifetime. So is four-years of college education (at a cost of about $50,000) worth earning an extra $1 million dollars you’ll earn over your lifetime? We think so.
More Job Opportunities
So are you really that much smarter if you earn a college degree? Well, that all depends on you–but in most cases the answer is yes. Even if you don’t remember everything you were taught in college, most students come away with (1) a greater ability to think analytically and (2) the discipline to see a task through from beginning to end–two very attractive qualities in an potential employee. For that reason, and several others, employers seek after college graduates when looking to fill job positions. Earning a college degree will greatly enhance your marketability as a professional.
Not only does a college degree make you more marketable, it makes you more marketable to a much greater range of lucrative career options. While high school graduates can look forward to entry-level positions in non-skilled positions, graduates with a four-year bachelor’s degree will qualify for a much greater range of higher paying entry- and upper-level career positions. Earn a master’s degree or PhD and the career advancement opportunities are limitless.
Earning a college degree–at any level–will open doors for you that would otherwise but shut. In addition to the skills and knowledge acquired by earning a degree, attending college provides professional networking opportunities inaccessible to those who don’t go to college. And the career networking opportunities typically increase with every level of education attained (e.g. associates, bachelor, master, and doctoral).
Studies have shown that college graduates are more likely to receive greater employer-provided benefits than employees without a college degree. This is especially true when it comes to healthcare coverage. A 2008 report produced by College Board showed that roughly 70 percent of individuals with a four-year college degree received health insurance from their employer, while less than 50 percent of employees with only a high school diploma received the same benefit.
Across the board, college graduates are able to find jobs with better benefits. In addition to health care insurance, college graduates can look forward to better retirement matching, health savings accounts, tuition reimbursement, free childcare and reimbursement for travel and commuting costs. In some instances, a benefits package can be worth almost as much as an employee’s take-home pay.
Not surprisingly, college graduates are typically more satisfied with their careers than individuals with a high school diploma–and since we spend almost out entire lives working, job satisfaction can be big factor in our overall satisfaction with life and sense of well-being. Studies have also shown that as level of education increase, so does job satisfaction.
College graduates are typically more satisfied with their careers for a number of reasons. They’re able to find higher paying careers. They’re able to get into positions with job advancement opportunities. They’re able to get hired by employers that provide generous benefits. And most importantly, they’re able work in fields and industries that interest them.
According to 2007 survey from the University of Chicago, some of the most satisfying occupations include physical therapist, firefighter, teacher, clergy, psychologist, education administrator, operating engineer, and office supervisor.
A college degree also leads to greater job stability. During an economic downturn, it’s not uncommon for employers to cut jobs. What positions do you think are first to get cut? That’s right. Typically those at the bottom of the totem pole–positions requiring unskilled labor. During a recession, the unemployment rate among college graduates is substantially lower than the unemployment rate among employees with only a high school diploma.
Certain jobs, however, inherently have a lower unemployment rate than others. According to U.S. News & World Report, some of the jobs with the best job security during a recession include registered nursing, public school teacher, college professor, accountant, federal judge, doctor and air traffic controller. Not surprisingly, most of these jobs also require a college degree.
Benefits to Your Children
When considering the benefits of college, most people only consider the direct impact of a college degree on their own lives–but a college degree has a huge impact on the well-being of their families as well, especially their children. Not only are children of parents with a college education better off socially and economically, but studies have shown that children in households where one or both parents have a college degree are themselves more likely to earn a college degree. Earning a college degree can have a ripple effect that will influence the well-being of generations to come.
There is also an interesting correlation between a woman’s education and the health of her children. A study produced by Lancet, a reputable medical journal, showed that between 1970 and 2009 there was a significant decrease in infant mortality rates for women as they attained higher levels of education.
Ability to Make Better Choices
Earning a college degree enables people to to make better choices the rest of their lives. Not only does a college education provide an individual with new knowledge and information, it teaches them how to think critically, how to break apart and reconstruct complex issues, and how to solve problems. Earning a college degree helps people make better choices about everything from mortgage rates to investment plans to launching a new business.
Ability to Communicate More Effectively
A college degree also has a very positive impact on an individual’s written and verbal communication skills. Of all the benefits provided by earning a college degree, this is one of the most valuable. Communication skills will influence just about every aspect of your life. The ability to communicate clearly, concisely, and persuasively with help you land the perfect job, improve your career advancement opportunities and enhance your interpersonal relationships with family members and associates.
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