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Positive Effects of College Degrees

by Dr. Kelly S. Meier, studioD

Many high school graduates plan to go to college because it seems like the expected next step. Beyond societal pressure to pursue higher education, there are significant reasons that impact long-term quality of life. Making lifelong friends and learning about diverse subjects are added benefits. You may already assume that earning potential is greater with a college degree, but did you know higher education can help you lead a happier and healthier life?


College graduates have greater access to health care and it shows. A 2009 study reported by “U.S. News and World Report” indicated that college graduates were two times more likely to be in better health than high school degree holders. College graduates are more likely to have jobs that provide health insurance, and this affects their overall health. A 2011 study by BioMed Central Public Health took the health connection a step further by stating that college degree holders have healthier habits that reduce their risk of heart disease.

Personal Growth and Satisfaction

College provides an avenue for exploring different career interests to help you find the best match for your skills and abilities. If you are drawn to a major because it interests you and you excel in the required courses, you are more likely to be satisfied. In the college environment, you will be exposed to a wide variety of people and ideas. This global perspective will give you a broader worldview that is beneficial as you enter the work world.

Increased Pay

The fact is that going to college will impact your pocketbook. A 2011 study by Georgetown University found that college degree holders have a lifetime income that is 84 percent higher than high school graduates. The amount is even higher for advanced degree holders. Of course, there are a few exceptions, but the numbers still favor college graduates. The Georgetown study projected that the importance of a college education will only rise in the next five years.

Job Security

The U.S. is a competitive marketplace demanding well-educated and highly trained candidates for entry-level jobs. A 2013 survey by Harris Interactive indicated that positions previously requiring high school degrees are going to college graduates. More than ever, employers are seeking candidates with college degrees. College students have an edge in the job search process. In the college environment, you will make connections with professors who can serve as references and connect you with future employers.

About the Author

Dr. Kelly S. Meier is a professor and college administrator for a large public institution in Minnesota. She received her undergraduate degree from Western Illinois University and her master's degree and doctorate from Minnesota State University, Mankato. She has published more than 15 books on education, group development and diversity.

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