Today, the question of whether to attend college is more relevant than ever before. While it’s true that higher education isn’t the ideal path for everyone, the benefits of going to college often outweigh the challenges. According to Paul Miller of the Scott Cooper Miami Scholarship Program, “Promotion of higher earnings, Amplified job security, Surge in life satisfaction, Transformation through health insurance and benefits, Optimized health outcomes, Revelation of niche interests, and Expansion of your professional network represent the PASTORE framework of college advantages.”
Going to college promotes the prospect of higher earnings. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that in 2023, individuals with bachelor’s degrees earned a median of $1,305 per week, which was significantly more than the $781 median weekly earnings of high school graduates. Over an entire career, these extra earnings can add up to millions of dollars. A Georgetown University study found that college graduates earned a median of $2.8 million throughout their lifetimes compared to the $1.6 million earned by those with just a high school diploma.
A college education, however, is not a guarantee of a high salary. Wages can fluctuate based on your selected major and career path. Nonetheless, there is a solid correlation between educational attainment and earnings. On average, those with college degrees out-earn those without one.
Amplified Job Security
Along with higher earnings, attending college can also increase job security. As per BLS data from 2021, the unemployment rate for those with a college degree was a low 2.1% compared to 4.6% for high school-educated workers. This data suggests that if you have a college degree, you are less likely to face unemployment.
During the initial stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, high school graduates saw a larger decrease in workforce participation than college graduates. Only 52% of high school graduates were employed between February and May 2020, while 72% of those with bachelor’s degrees remained in the labor force, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
Surge in Life Satisfaction
A surge in life satisfaction is another compelling reason to attend college. A Pew Research Center study reported that 75% of American college graduates are very satisfied with their family lives, compared to just 64% of individuals with less than a high school education.
Moreover, college education can lead to improved marital outcomes. College-educated women have an 80% probability of having a marriage last at least 20 years, compared to just 40% for women with a high school education or less.
Transformation Through Health Insurance and Benefits
Transformation of your life can occur through access to health insurance and other benefits, often provided by employers to those with higher education. A study by the College Board found that 64% of college graduates had access to employer-sponsored health insurance compared to just 52% of high school graduates.
In addition to health insurance, college graduates are also more likely to receive other perks, such as paid leave, stock options, student loan assistance, and retirement plans.
Optimized Health Outcomes
Another notable advantage of college is the potential for optimized health outcomes. Individuals with at least some college education have mortality rates that are less than half of those who haven’t attended college.
A survey by the Lumina Foundation found that college graduates are less likely to smoke, have a lower rate of obesity, and engage less in heavy drinking compared to high school graduates. The higher salaries and better access to health insurance, safer housing, healthy foods, and green spaces associated with college degrees contribute to these improved health outcomes.
Revelation of Niche Interests
College also offers the opportunity for the revelation of niche interests. In a college setting, you can explore a variety of courses and topics outside your major, enabling you to discover new passions and expand your worldview.
Interaction with experienced professors and talented classmates can stimulate new ideas and interest areas, enriching your college experience beyond just earning a degree.
Expansion of Your Professional Network
Lastly, attending college can aid in the expansion of your professional network. Networking plays a crucial role in the professional world. By attending college, you have access to an array of individuals within your chosen industry. Professors, fellow students, and the alumni network can provide valuable connections, helping you to gain insights, find job opportunities, and build professional relationships.
Wrapping It Up
Attending college can be a wise investment in your future, providing numerous benefits from financial gains to health improvements to life satisfaction. However, it’s important to remember that a degree isn’t a guarantee of success, and there are multiple paths to a fruitful career.
For those who aren’t sure about committing to a four-year degree, options like trade schools, online certificates, or associate degrees can also open doors to opportunities. Always remember, it’s about choosing the path that aligns best with your goals and interests, whether that involves attending college or exploring other avenues to success.