Why Get A College Degree: 5 Reasons Why You Should!


There are many people who go to college for their undergraduate degree and still many others who skip college entirely. But there is substantial evidence indicating that those who graduate college benefit in many different ways.

A college degree provides:

  • A Good Salary
  • Financial Stability and Lesser Unemployment
  • Better Health and Retirement Benefits
  • Occupational Upgrade and Higher Self-esteem
  • Promotes Better Lifestyle with greater focus on health, responsible citizenship, home ownership, better education for kids and so on

With the rising cost of higher education, there are also many who question whether the time and money spent on a college degree are worth it. So its important to look at this matter holistically to determine if the college degree pays for itself over the years.

5 Benefits of A College Degree

SALARY

As per a study conducted by the College Board in 2016, professionals with a 4 year bachelors degree earn an average of $25,000 more per year than high school graduates and on average $15,000 more per year than those with a 2 year associate degree.

Though these percentages are overall averages across multiple occupations, there are many occupations such as technology, healthcare or management where the salary gap is much wider.

Per College Board Education Pays report of 2019, in occupations such as sales or operations management, the wage difference between high school diploma holders and bachelors degree holders is in the range of $30,000 to $40,000.

STABLE EMPLOYMENT

As of 2018, 83% of those with a bachelors degree or higher are employed versus almost 69% for those with a high school diploma.

The unemployment rate is highest for people who have not completed high school.

Jobs which require only a high school diploma are available for workers with either a high school diploma, some college or a bachelors degree, whereas the reverse is not true.

Jobs that require a bachelors degree only accept workers with a 4 year college degree or higher. These jobs are unavailable to workers with anything less than a 4 year college degree. Therefore, college graduates qualify for many more job opportunities than the non graduates.

HEALTH AND RETIREMENT BENEFITS

In the private sector, there is an almost 10% difference in the retirement coverage given to bachelors degree holders versus high school diploma holders. This changes to about 5% difference for the health insurance coverage for fulltime workers.

HIGHER STATUS AND SELF ESTEEM

Scientists, economists, teachers, physicians and so on require bachelors or higher advanced degrees. These jobs require a greater use of one’s intellect, decision-making skills and specialized knowledge and skills for that occupation.

In comparison, retail sales representatives, food service managers, security guards, first-line supervisors and so on that are suitable for high school graduates require more rudimentary every-day communication skills and a certain amount of physical work or labor.

Therefore, people with a higher college degree get a better salary, more perks/benefits and a higher status in society with jobs that are much more difficult to replace.

BETTER LIFESTYLE

In the 25 to 34 age group, 69% those who have a bachelors degree or higher focus vigorously on physical fitness and exercise versus 47% of those with a high school diploma.

Since the 1960’s and continuing till 2017 and beyond, the smoking rate of 6% has been the lowest among workers with a bachelors degree or higher. The smoking rate of 25% is the highest for those who never completed high school.

The rate of volunteering and especially the rate of voting increases for people with a bachelors degree or higher and there is a 35% to 45% increase in the rate of voting among bachelors degree holders when compared to those with less than a high school diploma.

It has also been proven that people with a bachelors degree or above are more likely to send their kids to preschool and they also play a more active and supporting role in their kids’ school education over the years.

Home ownership increases with higher education since college graduates with experience have more stable employment, better salaries, qualify for higher loans and have a greater success rate of being able to make their monthly mortgage payments for many years into the future.

A College Degree Provides A Better Salary

Every increase in educational qualification makes a person eligible for a higher level occupation that offers a better salary.

As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), here are the projected yearly earnings for workers on average for 2019 to 2029:

S No.

Education

Typical Occupations

Projected Yearly Earnings

1

No formal credential

  • Fast food counter workers
  • Cashiers
  • Waiters
  • Janitors
  • Cooks
  • Maids
  • Landscaping workers
  • Construction workers

$22,740

to

$36,860

2

High School Diploma

  • Customer service representatives
  • Office clerks
  • Stockers and Order fillers
  • Childcare workers
  • Security Guards
  • Maintenance and repair workers
  • Secretaries and Receptionists

$24,230

to

$39,080

3

Associate degree (or) Some college (or) post secondary non-degree award

  • Bookkeeping or accounting clerks
  • Medical assistants
  • Teaching assistants
  • Truck drivers
  • Preschool teachers
  • Hairdressers and hairstylists
  • Auto technicians
  • Nursing assistants
  • Computer user support specialists

$26,090

to

$52,270

4

Bachelors degree

  • Operational managers
  • Registered Nurses
  • Software developers
  • Project managers
  • Accountants and auditors
  • Elementary school teachers
  • Personal service managers and other managers
  • Secondary school teachers

$59,670

to

$110,630

5

Masters, doctoral and professional degrees

  • Nurse practitioners
  • Education administrators
  • Healthcare social workers
  • Physical therapists
  • Lawyers
  • Educational guidance counselors
  • Post-secondary teachers
  • Instructional coordinators

$56,750

to

$122,960

College Education Leads to Financial Stability

As per the Education Pays 2016 report from College Board, the unemployment rate for individuals age 25 and older with various educational credentials declined as follows 2010 to 2015:

S No.

Education

2010 Unemployment Rate %

2015 Unemployment Rate %

1

Bachelors degree and above

4.7%

2.6%

2

Associate degree

7.0%

3.8%

3

Some college, no degree

9.2%

5.0%

4

High school diploma

10.3%

5.4%

5

No high school diploma

14.9%

8.0%

Also, due to the higher salaries, better health benefits and higher levels of employment, college graduates are less likely to be dependent on unemployment insurance or medicaid programs.

In fact, the opposite is true moving forward.

As per the Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, the economy in 2020 would fall short of 5 million workers with college degrees.

Jobs Provide Better Health and Retirement Benefits

HEALTH INSURANCE

In 2018, 64% of fulltime employees with a bachelors degree and 70% of those with an advanced degree had employer provided health insurance coverage, versus 52% of those with a high school diploma and 33% of those with less than a high school diploma.

The health insurance coverage is further reduced for parttime employees but the trend of higher college degree holders getting better employer provided health insurance coverage continues here as well.

These figures are featured in the Education Pays 2016 report from the College Board.

RETIREMENT PLANS

As per the US Census Bureau and the College Board, in the private sector, 52% of those with a bachelors degree and 43% of those with a high school diploma had employer-provided retirement plan coverage.

In federal, state and local government jobs, 79% of those with a bachelors degree had employer-provided retirement plan coverage versus 73% of those with a high school diploma. The higher the education level, the higher is the retirement plan benefit provided by the employer, with the maximum retirement plans provided for those with a masters or other advanced degree.

Graduates Have Higher Self Esteem

Since higher education provides individuals with higher paying job opportunities, their self esteem and confidence also gets an equivalent boost. College graduates are able to afford better homes, cars and a better life for their families.

Also, with the increase in education, individuals are eligible for occupations that have better working conditions with better office facilities, and with greater decision-making responsibilities that rest in the hands of the individual.

With experience, many employees move to senior positions and leadership and managerial roles which further boosts their self image and confidence. Spacious office rooms with a window view, cafeteria benefits and such perks make for a fun and comfortable working environment.

On the reverse side, workers with only a high school diploma hold positions that usually require some amount of physical labor in a position where they are frequently required to take orders and to follow instructions on a day-to-day basis. Such employees are also frequently in a role in which they serve and support the more senior employees in the company in various front-worker positions.

College Graduates Have a Better Lifestyle

HOME OWNERSHIP

With 2 to 5 years of continuous employment, many college graduates qualify for substantial home mortgage loans. This enables them to buy a large home and to live a comfortable life. And with the uptrend of the real estate market for the last ten or more years, this is likely to further improve the financial value of their home.

HEALTH AND FITNESS

Many companies provide discounted gym memberships or onsite gyms for their employees. As per the National Health Interview Survey of 2014 and the College Board, among adults 25 to 34, 69% of employees with a bachelors degree and 45% of employees with a high school diploma exercise vigorously at least once a week.

Even among employees 45 to 54 years of age, 80% of those with a bachelors degree reported doing some regular exercise versus 53% of high school graduates in this age group.

62% of employees 25 years or older reported leisure-time aerobic activity versus 40% of those with a high school diploma.

OBESITY

Though obesity levels over the years have increased all round, the average increase in obesity levels for bachelors degree holders and above is several percentages lower than for those with a high school diploma or lesser. Obesity rates were also seen to be higher for children whose parents had lesser levels of education.

SMOKING

As of 2014, 8% of men and 6% of women with a bachelors degree engaged in smoking when compared to 28% of males and 24% of females with a high school diploma who smoked.

KID’S EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITIES

Parents with a bachelors or advanced degree are more likely to read to their 3 to 5 year olds and more likely to take their school-age children to a library regularly than parents with only a high school diploma.

Similar gaps in engagement have also been noted for attending plays or concerts, visiting museums or art galleries, or events sponsored by their community of ethnic group. Parents with higher education are more involved with their kids in all of these group, community and educational activities than parents with much lesser education.

VOLUNTEERING

As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), individuals with a bachelors degree or higher are more involved in unpaid volunteering activities. This is as per a survey conducted in 2015.

35% of men and 42% of women with a bachelors degree or above volunteered in their communities. This volunteering figure stands at 14% of men and 18% for women who only have a high school diploma.

This directly indicates that individuals and employees with higher education feel a greater responsibility to engage and serve their communities.

VOTING

Though 65 to 74 year olds have the highest percentage of voting and voting frequency goes up with age, among the 18 to 64 age group, individuals with a bachelor’s degree or higher have the highest rate of voting. This was seen to be similar both in 2016 and 2018 though the overall voting has increased from 2016 to 2018.

Overall across all age groups, voting rates for bachelors degree and higher individuals have been the highest at 76% as of 2016. This figure is at 35% for high school diploma US citizens.

College Degree: A Necessary Ingredient For A Good Job

From looking at the above information, there is ample evidence to indicate that a college degree is necessary for taking up employment with a good salary. In addition to this, a college degree provides many indirect benefits such as greater self esteem, home ownership, better health and fitness and so much more.

The only issue relates to the actual cost of a college degree. Most college education in the United States tends to be extremely expensive, though there are many scholarships and grants available especially for lower income families.

In spite of the high cost of a college education, in general, a college education does pay for itself over the years as the person continues to be employed. Though most people benefit from a college education, some individuals do not have a good ROI with college.

For a better ROI from college, it is extremely important for everyone to choose a college major and occupation which they enjoy and can grow in. The occupation itself also needs to have a good pay scale and with adequately compensate the individual for their years in college and for a good lifestyle.

Apart from scholarships, another option to reduce college expenses is to sign up with a degree completion college such as Excelsior or any one of the other flexible, degree completion colleges.

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