Graduating from college with an associate or bachelor’s degree can have positive benefits in your life and career. Higher earnings, better job prospects and the potential for a better overall quality of life are among the reasons to earn a college degree.

Job Opportunities

Relative to peers with no diploma or those with some college but no degree, college graduates typically have more job opportunities. Many career fields require a two- or four-year college degree. When someone with a degree competes for a job against someone who doesn’t hold a degree, the degree-holder has greater odds of landing a job offer. The Bureau of Labor Statistics noted a 2012 unemployment rate of 8.3 percent for those with just a high school diploma. With some college and no degree, unemployment was 7.7 percent. With an associate or bachelor’s degree, unemployment fell to 6.2 and 4.5 percent, respectively.

Earning Potential

Earning potential shows a similar pattern. College graduates typically have higher income opportunities based on access to better jobs and higher salaries offered to workers with more education. A May 2011 "Pew Research Center" study showed that the typical bachelor's degree holder can expect to earn roughly $650,000 more in a 40-year career than someone with only a high school diploma. The study also noted that even factoring the costs and missed income opportunities tied to getting the degree, bachelor's holders would still take home about $550,000 more during their careers.

Greater Knowledge Base

Completing a degree program normally means attaining a greater breadth and depth of knowledge than a person who does not graduate. With a two-year vocational degree in areas like auto and diesel or marketing, for instance, you take several classes and often get hands-on internship experiences in your preferred field. Many of the more program-specific classes take place in the latter stages of a degree program, so you only gain the knowledge and skills by taking all of the required classes. A July 2012 Grantham University article noted that graduates typically have developed strong communication and critical thinking skills while earning their degrees. Completing a program usually means you have had more exposure to communication and critical thinking projects and experiences.

Intergeneration Effect

Traditional college students fresh out of high school may not consider this benefit, but graduating college often has intergenerational benefits within a family. Middle-aged and older people sometimes return to school to graduate because they want to set an example for children or grandchildren while also improving career-advancement opportunities. First-generation college graduates often break a family cycle and set the stage for future generations to get a degree. Limited income and lack of family support and legacy often contribute to family-related obstacles to earning a degree. By completing a degree, you can show future generations in your family what they can accomplish.