The value of college has become one of the most hotly debated topics in recent years. With student debt ballooning to an incredible 1.6 trillion and reports of graduates putting off major life milestones such as buying a home and even getting married because of their student debt, many people have begun to question if college is worth the expense.
The reality is college still makes an excellent investment for most people. The key to success is understanding how to properly plan for not only college, but your career following graduation.
The Benefits of Going to School
If you are considering whether or not a college degree will be a good decision for you, here are just a few reasons why we believe that college is meaningful.
Consider the job market
Those debating attending college should consider their job prospects. A number of entry-level jobs require a college degree. You might find yourself in need of a college degree when applying to jobs such as an office manager or clerk. Clearly, employers value the education and work ethic that comes from pursuing a postsecondary education. Thus, earning such a degree can open many more doors for you.
People with college degrees also have a lower unemployment rate than those without. As of September 2019, the unemployment rate for those with a college degree is an incredible 2.0 percent, with the unemployment rate rising to 3.6 percent for those with only a high school diploma.
Not only are college graduates more likely to have a job, but they also tend to experience greater job satisfaction. In 2016, Pew Research reported that 77 percent of workers who had a postgraduate degree and 60 percent of those with a bachelor’s degree found a sense of identity with their job or career. On the other hand, only 38 percent of those who had not gone to college were able to say the same.
And, of course, we can’t discuss the job benefits of having a college degree without mentioning earning potential. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that workers with just a bachelor’s degree will earn $468 more per week than those who do not have any college experience. For most careers, this translates to lifetime earnings that far outpace the financial costs of the degree.
Experiences that stretch beyond the classroom
College is not only about the actual degree you earn. The experiences you gain throughout the program can provide you with many benefits in the job market. For example, earning a college degree often requires teamwork. There are plenty of group assignments, study groups and other team efforts that people undertake during college.
Problem-solving and critical thinking are also on full display. Much of a college education revolves around taking knowledge and insight from others and then using that to solve new problems—to think about questions and problems from new perspectives and directions.
It can be argued that these traits—teamwork, problem-solving and critical thinking—can be learned in other environments. But college education forces you to practice them in a unique way.
Experience physical and social benefits
Earning a college degree will also allow you to experience a variety of physical and social benefits that can help you thrive throughout your life.
Those who have earned college degrees experience greater well-being. They tend to have healthier habits than those who do not have a degree, and this translates to better overall health. Taking this even further, college education also correlates with a reduced mortality rate, which means that you might also improve your life expectancy.
Socially, you will find that attending college can help you build a stronger network. When it comes to job hunting, connections can make a tremendous difference in your ability to find a job. Through your well-connected network, you will be able to hear about relevant job openings faster and your network can also serve as references during your job search.
Knowing people in your chosen industry can also provide advice and guidance as you begin to find your way in the field, which in turn, can help you advance within your career quicker.
Become a better neighbor and citizen
Studies have found that those who have graduated from college or a university tend to be more involved in their communities and thus make better citizens and neighbors. For example, in a paper from the Lumina Foundation, 40 percent of adults who earned at least a bachelor’s degree spent time volunteering in their community in the past year. In comparison, among those who only have a high school education, only 17 percent reported helping their community in the same way.
Similarly, those who have earned some type of college degree were as much as 3 times more likely to donate money to charity than those who have not gone to college. This money also benefits the community by helping the people and organizations who need additional support.
When it comes to civic responsibility, those with college degrees were 1.5 times more likely to consistently vote in local elections than those who have not attended an institution of higher learning. In addition, those with college degrees are also more likely to participate in community organizations such as schools or religious organizations, which further help to build strong communities and relationships.
Altogether, the impact of higher education appears to positively influence people towards their communities and how they can benefit those around them.
Pursue those benefits at ACU Online
At ACU Online, we believe in the power of education. Helping adults work smarter, live better, connect deeper—it’s why we offer online degree programs. We know that a college degree is completely worth the time, effort and funding required. The job opportunities and life experiences afforded can enhance your quality of life and open doors that would not be possible otherwise.
If you’ve thought about the value that a college degree can bring to your life and your family, we’re here to help. For more information on how ACU Online can help you gain the education and the credentials you need to live into your calling, contact us at 855-219-7300 or acu.edu/online.