People often focus on the job and income potential that comes with a college degree. However, a college degree can actually have some surprising affects on your overall health and quality of life as an adult. College is an investment and a time commitment, but the tangible and intangible benefits of a degree often justify the effort.
A college degree not only increases the breadth and depth of your employment options, but it also offers great insulation from downsizing during recessions. A January 2013 report from The Pew Charitable Trusts indicated that bachelor's degree holders were more likely to retain jobs or quickly find new ones during the challenging economic time frame of 2003 to 2011. Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that in 2012, the unemployment rate among people with only a diploma was 8.3 percent. With an associate or bachelor's degree, the rate fell to 6.2 and 4.5 percent, respectively.
Not surprisingly, income data also shows the effect a college degree can have on earnings. The BLS noted that weekly median pay with a high school diploma was $652 in 2012. At the associate level, median income was at $785. The typical income with a bachelor's degree was significantly higher at $1,066. Advanced degrees, including a master's, doctoral or professional degree, led to typical earnings ranging from $1,300 to $1,735 per week.
College is often a major transition in life for people. For some students, it is the first time they have been away from home, made major decisions independently and done many tasks, such as laundry, for themselves. Additionally, students get a chance to grow socially and professionally through professor and peer relationships. The bonds developed during college often provide a network for careers and relationships after school as well. Community service and extracurricular involvement also provide opportunities to become more civic-minded. Colleges also commonly provide students exposure to a diverse group of students, which helps in increased cultural awareness and sensitivity.
Quality of Life
A September 2007 College Board study found that 70 percent of people with a bachelor's degree had employer-sponsored health benefits and pension plans. Full-time workers with just a diploma were covered 53 percent of the time, and without a diploma, the level fell to 32 percent. The study also found that college graduates tend to engage in healthier lifestyles. They also contribute more as active citizens through community involvement, voting and blood donation.
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