The decision to attend college is serious. College costs are rising and the time commitment required to complete a degree is great. Potential college students, especially those who are on the fence about attending, should have an understanding of the many tangible and intangible benefits of obtaining a degree to help them make an informed decision.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2012, those without college degrees experienced higher unemployment rates than those with degrees. Workers with only high school diplomas had an unemployment rate of 8.3 percent. Compare that to college graduates -- rates for those with an associate, bachelor's or master's degree were 6.2 percent, 4.5 percent and 3.5 percent respectively. Attending college also prepares students for careers that are unattainable for those without degrees.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, full-time, salaried workers over the age of 25 with a bachelor's degree in 2012 earned, on average, about $55,000 per year. Those with only a high school diploma earned around $34,000. The U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2010 that the average lifetime earnings for those with a bachelor's degree were about $2.2 million and $1.3 million for high school graduates. Over a lifetime, someone with a college degree will earn about 74 percent more than someone with only a high school diploma. College graduates are also versatile and have plenty of options when it comes to careers. The DePaul College University Career Center compiled a matrix of potential jobs for those with a degree in finance, which includes more than 30 possible job areas.
Your Personal Life
One of the greatest intangible benefits of going to college is the sense of pride that comes from completing a degree. It takes several years, a lot of time and many sacrifices to earn a degree, and this feeling of accomplishment can increase motivation and self-confidence. A study by the Pew Research Center found that 39 percent of college graduates feel that the main purpose of college is "to help an individual grow personally and intellectually." One respondent noted that interacting with people of different backgrounds helped her become more outgoing and another mentioned how college helped him learn to adapt to new situations. According to the College Board, college students also have the chance to discover new passions, increase self-awareness and build lifelong relationships with peers.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that adults who attend college are less likely to get divorced in the first 10 years of marriage than non-college-educated couples. Women with at least a bachelor’s degree are 37 percent more likely to have a first marriage last 20 years than women with only a high school education. Men with at least a bachelor’s degree are 18 percent more likely to reach the 20-year mark than those with a high school diploma.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Employment Projections
- Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce: The College Payoff
- The College Board: College -- What It's All About and Why It Matters
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: National Health Statistics Reports
- The Chronicle of Higher Education: College's Value Goes Deeper Than the Degree, Graduates Say
- DePaul University Career: A Guide to Career Options: What Can I Do With a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance?
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