In today’s world, education is often the best tool for getting ahead. It can help you grow in a variety of ways—you can pursue a passion, increase your long-term income, and have the experience of a lifetime. In fact, college graduates earn more than twice as much as high school graduates. Some studies have found that college graduates with a bachelor’s degree earn 80% more per year than those with only a high school degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the more education you have, the more your average salary increases.
Although college can be expensive, and the overall student debt has increased to roughly $1 trillion, the pay gap between those with a college degree and those without is increasing yearly. According to the Economic Policy Institute, Americans with four-year college degrees made 98% more an hour on average in 2013 than people without a degree—that’s a number that has consistently increased since the early 1980s when it was at 64%.
Educational & Social Benefits
Making more money in your lifetime isn’t the only benefit to a college degree. There are other educational and social benefits that can be drawn from a college education. These include:
- Quality of Life – Individuals who attend college make informed decisions, which can also lead to having more money. Studies have shown that college grads save and make more money and have more assets, including homes, cars, and investments. People who attend college tend to work in white collar jobs, in office buildings, or other facilities with air-conditioning, heating, and conveniences that improve the quality of life. Additionally, the Council on Contemporary Families reported that college graduates are less likely to divorce.
- Work Productivity & Opportunity – If job satisfaction is important to you, then consider pursuing a college degree. Studies have shown that people who attend college have greater work opportunities, are more satisfied at work, and tend to have skills that can be easily applied in different work settings and different geographic locations. Additionally, those who attend some college are employed at three times a higher rate than those who have not.
- Longer & Healthier Lifespan – In addition to the income boost that comes with higher education, college grads are healthier and have longer lifespans as well. A survey by the Center for Disease Control indicates that between 1990 and 2008, the life expectancy gap between the most and least educated Americans grew from 13 to 14 years among males and from 8 to 10 years among females. Unfortunately, studies have also shown that those with less education are more likely to have risk factors that predict disease—such as smoking and obesity. Having a higher socioeconomic status (measured by total family income, level of education attained and professional career status) is directly correlated with better physical health and life expectancy.
- Self-Esteem & Psychological Well-being – When you walk across that stage with a diploma in hand, there is a sense of pride and confidence that no one can take away from you. Not only is it a rite of passage, but you’ve accomplished something that can never be taken away. Additionally, studies conducted by the College Board have found that those who have completed some college are not only more well-equipped to handle mental challenges, but also report a higher level of satisfaction when doing so.
- Building a Legacy – One of the best parts of a college education is passing the benefits on to your kids. Children of college-educated parents are smarter, more likely to graduate from high school, more likely to attend college, and have a better quality of life.
Whether it’s a bachelor’s degree from a traditional four-year college or a Career Technical School, higher education has benefits far outside of knowledge and books. Whether or not education plays the most important role in your likelihood of getting hired, there’s no doubt that taking opportunities to learn and grow in your career is a beneficial piece of the puzzle. And, you don’t necessarily have to follow a typical four-year degree path. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 14 of the 20 fastest-growing occupations in America require an associate’s degree or less. If you’re hoping to further your education without following a four-year plan, check out this article for more information.
What other benefits have you seen from attending college? Let us know in the comments section below.