Deciding if a college degree is worth the time and money can be a difficult decision. The benefits of being a college graduate are both tangible and intangible. Future job outlook and potential earnings usually top the list for reasons that students decide to attend college, but there are other benefits that extend beyond economics. Those with a college degree typically enjoy more stable lives, educational benefits for their children and personal satisfaction that comes from reaching this personal goal.
Workers with a bachelor’s or graduate degree can expect more employment opportunities, greater job growth and less unemployment and poverty. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that college graduates will experience the fastest job growth out of all education levels from 2006 to 2016. The increase in the number of jobs will be about 15 percent, or an addition of 5 million jobs. In 2010, only 4.5 percent of those with bachelor's degrees were unemployed. This rate is lower than the national average of 6.8 percent and that of high school graduates at 8.3 percent.
With lower unemployment rates and higher average salaries, college graduates can expect to experience much higher lifetime earnings than those without a degree. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2010, on average, college gradates aged 25 and over earned about $55,000 a year, while those with some college credits, but no degree, averaged roughly $38,000 a year. High school gradates earned even less, at about $34,000 per year.
Educational Benefits for Your Children
Children of college graduates reap benefits too. Data from the National Center for Education Statistics published on the College Board website shows a positive correlation between educational attainment of parents and school-readiness factors such as counting, letter recognition and reading for their children. In 2007, children between 3 and 5 whose parents held at least a bachelor's degree were more than twice as likely to be able to recognize all of the letters of the alphabet when compared to children of high school graduates. 74 percent of parents with at least a bachelor's degree also read to their child everyday, compared to only 41 percent of high school graduates.
College is a long, difficult process and when you earn a degree, you have something to carry with you forever. While jobs may come and go and your college memories may fade, your education will always stay with you. The satisfaction that comes with such an accomplishment can be a life-changing experience. Knowing that you finished what you started, have invested in your future and accomplished something that not everyone can, might make you more confident and boost your self-esteem.
Data from the National Center for Family and Marriage Research shows higher education usually results in more stable marriages. In 2010, 17.5 percent of first marriages for women ended in divorce, but for those with a college degree, the rate was 14.2 percent. According to the College Board, college graduates are more likely to be politically involved and volunteer in their communities. The voting rate for college graduates is the highest in all age groups, at well over 70 percent in 2008.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Employment Projections
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Job Outlook By Education, 2006-2016
- National Center for Family and Marriage Research: First Divorce Rate, 2010
- The College Board: Voting Rates by Age and Education Level, 2008
- The College Board: School Readiness of Preschool Children, by Parents' Education Level, 2007
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images