contributed by Tricia Hussung
Earning a college degree is an important step, both personally and professionally. When you consider the financial, social and cultural benefits of higher education, it is easy to see how a degree can make a big difference in your life and career.
For example, according to the College Board’s Education Pays report, workers who hold a bachelor’s degree are likely to be “very satisfied” with their work — 9 percent more satisfied than those with less education. In addition, completing a college education “increases the chances that adults will move up the socioeconomic ladder.” And there are even more benefits of having a college degree — the following are just a few: More awareness of what’s possible (see below). Improved and ‘organic’ networking. Career and continuing education resources. Confidence. Job-specific certification.
But what else? What other benefits of a college degree are there?
Diversity in knowledge and experience
There are very few college degrees that don’t require students to push beyond their comfort zone, expertise, and preferred ‘sociocultural patterns and behavior’ to graduate. From courses and projects, to mentorships, networking while in school, and the application of the degree after school, college almost always requires students to change who they were to become something ‘more.’
This is maybe the most important benefit of a college degree: Flexibility.
While not a guarantee of anything at all, a college degree provides opportunity by giving the graduate with options by qualifying for jobs otherwise out of reach certification-wise. But more importantly, by being exposed to the dozens of classes across a range of university-level content, most students graduate from college with a broader understanding of how these fields ‘work’ and what their role in the fields might be.
Higher earning potential
For many individuals who go back to school, the chance to earn more money is a major incentive. Postsecondary degrees of all types (associate, bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral) increase your chances of earning higher pay. According to a report by the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, high school graduates earn an average of $30,000 per year.
This number increases dramatically when you consider bachelor’s degree holders: They earn more than $50,000 per year, on average. Finally, those with advanced degrees could earn almost $70,000 a year. This is a wide wage gap that is dramatically affected by the level of education.
Of course, your earning potential varies by field and specific career, but these numbers represent averages.
More career opportunities
You know that earning a college degree is a smart way to increase career success. Employment opportunities are narrowing for those who only hold high school diplomas. Conversely, college graduates have skills that qualify them for a wide range of careers with upward mobility.
Though all career paths are different and generalizations are not true for all jobs, the act of earning any degree gives you skills you need for career success. College courses teach you to think analytically, communicate effectively and solve problems efficiently. As a student, you will also gain experience in time management, organization and self-discipline, all of which are skills employers seek.
Improved job security
Another benefit of earning a college degree is that you will likely have better job security. And for some employers, the value of an educated workforce means that they will pay for employees’ tuition. This says a lot about how higher education is viewed in the workplace: It has substantial benefits for both you and your employer. In addition, data shows that college graduates are less likely to lose their jobs during an economic downturn.
Further, by qualifying for a wider range of jobs, students’ job security is naturally improved.
It is also true that college graduates often report higher job satisfaction, as the College Board reports.
Because you have studied a topic and degree of interest to you, chances are you will enjoy what you do. And because of some of the benefits described above, such as higher income and opportunities for advancement, your job will also improve your quality of life. In fact, the same College Board report states that, of those who exercised regularly, almost 70 percent were college graduates, while the number for high school graduates was much lower at 40 percent.
Furthermore, 31 percent of “adults from the mid-range family income quintile who earned college degrees moved up to the top income quintile between 2000 and 2008.”
Most jobs that require postsecondary education also provide more benefits and perks. From health care and retirement investment to travel and community discounts, these benefits can make a vital difference in your life outside the office. These kinds of benefits are not usually offered for high school-level jobs. Perks like these are important for your family because they offer long-term stability.
specially when it comes to health insurance, these benefits are an economic advantage that goes beyond salary. According to Education Corner, families of college graduates are usually more economically and socially well-off. And because it’s also much more likely that the next generation will attend college, earning your degree is an investment both in your future and the future of your family.
If you’re ready to gain the benefits of a college degree, Striking Distance can help. This free, consultative service helps potential students find the online program that works for them, at a regionally accredited, not-for-profit college. Education counselors work with students like you to understand their transfer credits, financial aid options, and education and career goals, all at no cost to the student.
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