For a long time, the American workforce has been becoming increasingly specialized, which means that an increasing amount of education and preparation is required for many careers. A high school diploma was once a guarantee of a person's ability to handle most job skills, but this is no longer the case. In many instances, a person with only a high school diploma faces difficulties finding well-paying positions with job security. A few years of college, and preferably a degree, are now almost necessary qualifications.

The Facts

As the cost of a college education goes up, many begin to question whether the expense is worth the reward. Simply examining the financial differential between those with a college degree and those without one reveals that the more educated a person is, the more, on average, he will earn in his lifetime. It is estimated that people with a college degree earn almost twice as much as those with only a high school diploma; even those with only a few years of college or an associate's degree earn close to a quarter more. Though the burden of tuition and loans can seem heavy, the cost of remaining uneducated is obvious.

Significance

Obtaining a college degree makes more than just a financial difference for the individual; rather, it can make the difference for an entire family. Those with more education are generally qualified for jobs with better benefits, including health, life, and retirement. Their jobs are, in general, more secure. Parents who make more money are also better able to provide for their children's education, increasing the likelihood that they will go to college and get good jobs. Getting a college education is one of the best ways to escape the cycle of poverty, for both yourself and your descendants.

Effects

Though completing a college degree while you are young increases your earning potential, this does not mean that only current students can profit. Those with secure positions can earn raises and better benefits from going back to school. Those afraid of losing their jobs can acquire certification in another field, often while still working part or even full-time. For motivated students, a bachelor's degree takes about 4 years; 4 years is rarely enough time to be promoted based solely on experience. This disparity underlines the motivation behind and the importance of earning a college degree.

Considerations

When deciding whether to go back to school, one of the major factors in the decision should be job security. Today, many jobs are being outsourced to other countries for cheaper labor, or are being negated through technological improvements like robots. People without a college degree are likely to do manual labor, factory work and other jobs that are becoming increasingly less secure. Therefore, it is important to realize that while a certain unskilled job might be in high demand now, this is not likely to always be the case. Those with college degrees experience more job security because they fill positions for which relatively few people are qualified.

Misconceptions

Although a college degree is almost always worth the expense, it can be extremely costly, and, if you have trouble finding a job after graduation it can become a burden. Often people assume that simply getting a degree will solve all financial problems; the reality is that in order to profit the most from education, a lot of planning is in order. Before going into debt for a degree, make sure you know how much money you stand to make after you complete it. It is important not to waste money you do not have on college classes you are not prepared for or will not take seriously. However, if you think of college as an investment for dedicated individuals, its true value becomes clear.