For students on the fence about whether to go to college after high school, it is important to understand how a college experience contributes to life achievements and goals. Data clearly shows that college increases employment and earnings potential. However, college can also offer benefits in areas such as health and quality of life.
Given the choice, most high school seniors would prefer an adult life full of numerous employment options. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers strong evidence that a college experience, even without a degree, can aid in employment opportunities. In 2012, the Bureau indicated an unemployment rate of 8.3 percent for people with only a high school diploma. For those with even some college, the rate fell to 7.7 percent. For those with an associate's degree, the number fell to 6.2 percent. People with bachelor's degrees experienced 4.5 percent unemployment. In addition to finding any employment, the quality of jobs you can get generally goes up according to how much college you have.
Similarly, a common goal for young adults is to get into a high-paying career with income-growth opportunities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics noted similar patterns in earnings related to education. Median weekly income for high school graduates was $652. Those with some college earned $75 more per week, at $727. Income standards really shot up at the bachelor's degree level, with those people getting $1,066 per week. The stronger your skill development during college, the more opportunities you have for higher-paying jobs and raises.
Part of the college experience is self-discovery, self-improvement and personal growth. Students often learn these skills by being on their own, away from parents and family support for the first time. Participation in extracurricular and social activities, including Greek life, can enhance personal and social development. Many fraternities and sororities encourage active involvement in community service as well. These experiences can boost a student's confidence, social skills and civic awareness, all of which can help with careers and building a well-rounded adult life.
Quality of Life
Although young people may not contemplate the connection between college and personal health and wellness, they may experience improved quality of life down the road if they attend college. A May 2009 report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America indicated that college graduates are significantly happier and healthier than those with only a high school diploma. This may be related to them having better jobs and more income. However, the improved confidence and social skills gained from the college experience contribute as well.
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