August 2, 2017
If you're considering earning a college degree, you may be wondering, why is college important?
With more and more occupations requiring advanced education, a college degree is critical to your success in today's workforce. But earning a college degree can also have a significant impact on other areas of your life.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), workers with a bachelor's degree earned an average of $464 per week than workers with only a high school diploma - a higher salary that can add up over the course of your lifetime. A 2015 report from the U.S. Department of Education found the average worker with a bachelor's degree with earn approximately $1 million more than a worker without a postsecondary education.
In addition to the potential to make more money, earning your college degree could also lead to more career stability. According to BLS data, just 2.7 percent of workers with a bachelor's degree are facing unemployment, compared to 5.2 percent of workers with only a high school diploma.
A 2016 Pew Research report found that 77 percent of workers with a post-graduate degree and 60 percent of workers with a bachelor's degree believe their job gives them a sense of identity, versus just 38 percent of those with a high school diploma or less. Workers with a bachelor's degree or more advanced education were are also significantly more to say their job is a career, with 70 percent viewing their job as a career compared to just 39 percent of workers with no college education .
Working-age adults with bachelor's degrees are 9.4 times more likely to have a bank account than those with a high school diploma as their highest level of education, according to a 2016 report from the Lumina Foundation.
College-educated adults were also less likely to have used expensive forms of credit. Just 2.3 percent of college-educated adults used pay-day and tax refund loans within the last year, compared to 9.2 percent of high school graduates without a college education.
A 2016 report from real estate company Zillow found that 75 percent of all home buyers were college-educated in that year, compared to just 11 percent who had a high school diploma only and 14 percent who attended some college but did not earn a degree.
Sixty-five percent of adults ages 25 and older with a bachelor's degree or more were married in 2014, compared with 53 percent of adults with less education, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center report.
A degree could mean a longer-lasting marriage, too. According to the report, researchers at the National Center for Health Statistics estimate that 78 percent of college-educated women who married for the first time between 2006 and 2010 could expect their marriages to last at least 20 years, compared to just 40 percent of women with a high school education or less.
Just one additional year of college education can decrease your mortality rate by 15 to 19 percent, according to a 2016 report by the Brookings Institute. In fact, high school graduates have a mortality rate that is double those with some college or a college degree, the report states.
A Lumina Foundation report found that college degree holders demonstrate healthier habits than non-degree holders.
The proportion of adults smoking daily falls significantly with an increase in education, the report states, from 20 percent of high school graduates without any college education to 5 percent of those with bachelor's degrees and just 3 percent of workers with graduate degrees.
The report also found a strong positive relationship between educational attainment and eating fruits and vegetables, exercising and wearing a seat belt.
Ninety-four percent of adults with a bachelor's degree or higher reported being happy or very happy with life, compared to 89 percent of adults with no college education, according to the Lumina Foundation report.
Earning your college degree can improve the lives of those around you, too. According to the Lumina Foundation report, 40 percent of working-age adults with a bachelor's degree volunteered in their community within the past year, compared to just 17 percent of high school graduates without any college education.
College degree holders also donated three times more money to charity than workers without any college education, were 1.5 times as likely to consistently vote in local elections and more than twice as likely to participate in a school, community or religious organization.
Jennifer Brady is a subject matter expert in higher ed marketing and student recruitment. Follow her on Twitter @whereisjenbrady or connect on LinkedIn.
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