The Statistics on the Importance of College

Earning a college degree may require overcoming family and financial obstacles for some students.
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Earning a college degree becomes increasingly important to remain competitive in the job market. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the higher the level of education people attain, the more insulated they are from the risks of unemployment and the higher their potential income level. Even a two-year associate degree can substantially boost your opportunities beyond a high school diploma.

1 Prevalence

According to March 2011 Census Bureau data, a record 30.4 percent of American adults 25 and older held a bachelor's degree. Additionally, 10.9 percent had a graduate degree. These numbers represent a significant boost over the 26.2 percent with a bachelor's and 8.7 percent with a graduate degree just 10 years earlier. Women also nearly passed men in earning degrees for the first time. As more people earn college degrees, the necessity of having one to remain competitive increases. The higher the educational quality available in prospective employees, the more selective employers become.

2 Unemployment

Bureau of Labor Statistics data for 2012, just after a recession and in a tight labor market, indicated that unemployment with no college was at 8.3 percent. Even some college lowered the rate to 7.7 percent. At the associate degree level, the unemployment rate fell to 6.2 percent, and the population with bachelor's degrees had a 4.5 percent unemployment rate.

3 Earning Potential

Statistics also bear out the commonly held perception that more education equals more pay. Bureau of Labor Statistics information on 2012 median income showed that people with more college earned more money. Weekly median earnings for people with some college were around 11.5 percent higher than for those with just a high school diploma. People with an associate degree earned weekly pay about 20.4 percent higher than for those with just a high school diploma. A major jump occurred at the bachelor's level, where income was 63.5 percent higher than for those with just a high school diploma.

4 Quality of Life

In a 2008 report, the College Board indicated that college graduates normally have better pension plans and insurance coverage. Additionally, their overall health is better and their life expectancy is higher. Less likelihood of serious illnesses such as heart disease and cancer are noted by several studies on education and health effects, according to the board. Since college grads earn more, they contribute more to America's economy and they are also more likely to volunteer and to raise better-educated children.

Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.