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Advantages of a College Education

Updated on August 26, 2016
VirginiaLynne profile image

Virginia has been a university English instructor for over 20 years. She specializes in helping people write essays faster and easier.


Is It Worth It?

If you are graduating from high school or a parent of a graduate, you may be looking at colleges and wondering if the high cost of tuition is worth it. The short answer is yes. According to recent data from the United States Census, University education has lifelong benefits. In fact, getting more schooling under your belt is your best chance not only of having more financial security but also a happier and more fulfilling career and life. Moreover, children of college educated parents generally do better in school and often exceed their parents in their achievements. Here are some of the reasons why a college education will benefit you:

More Money

So will the investment you make in advanced schooling have a good return? Does going past high school help people make more money? Absolutely. In fact, most entry-level jobs for college graduates pay much more than those who have just graduated from high school. Moreover, the difference doesn't end with that first month's salary.

A 2006 study by the College Board found that over the course of their careers, college graduates made 73% more than people who just finished high school. People with degrees beyond a bachelor's (like a Masters, a Law degree, or an M.B.A.) earned two to three times as much as a typical high school graduate.

That means that even the most expensive private school tuition will be paid back many times over by the income a graduate will make.

College and Salary Statistics

Education Level
Median Salary in 2003
didn't finish High School
High School Graduate
Some College
Associate Degree
Bachelor's Degree
Master's Degree
Doctorate Degree
Professional Degree
U.S. Census Bureau

Some College Better Than None

Surprisingly, even if you don't finish your degree, you will definitely benefit from having spent some time in a higher education facility. Although finishing a bachelor's degree or more gives the most benefits, even some college is better than none. A study in 2005 by Columbia University Teacher's college discovered that having even just one year of college after high school raised salaries by 10% from someone that had none. This study also found that women who completed a certificate, but not a degree, did obtain significantly greater salaries than women who did not. So even if you are not sure you could complete a college degree, it will be worth your while to begin college right out of high school.

Unemployment Insurance

Remember the 2008 downturn? How could you forget? Most of us know someone who lost their job or was forced to live on less. While we've all heard about the fact that the downturn caused high unemployment, what most people don't know is that the loss of work did not hit everyone equally. While high school graduates had unemployment rates over 10%, college graduate unemployment rate has only been 5%, even in the worst downturns in the economy. So graduating from college not only ensures that you make more money at your job, it also ensures you will keep your job even when times get tough.

Makes You A Valuable Employee

There is a reason people with degrees don't lose their jobs as easily. When you are a college graduate, an employer often spends more time hiring you and training you. That increases your value to the company as well as giving you additional career skills. Another advantage of this is that when a company has invested money into you, they are more likely to keep you, even if the company is doing layoffs. Unskilled laborers can be more easily and cheaply replaced than a person who has more education.

Fewer Good Unskilled Jobs

Unfortunately, times are changing and so is the job market. In previous generations, someone who did not go to college could join a company and work up through the ranks to get a good job, or learn skills on the job. These days that is less possible. Many jobs require computer skills and other technical knowledge and good paying full-time jobs for unskilled laborers are going away. Many companies don't want to pay benefits to unskilled workers, so they will only give them part time jobs. Getting a degree gives you the assurance that you will have a better chance at not only a better job but also a full-time position with good benefits.


Brookings Study Says College Is a Good Investment

Healthier Life

Not as worried about money? How about living longer? Studies show that University graduates have better health than people who only graduated from high school. The fact that they have better health benefits probably contributes to this. However, the process of going to college also probably gives them more education about how to care for their health as well as access to fitness equipment, gyms, and encouragement to live a healthy lifestyle. In fact, college graduates do exercise more than people who never went to college and they also smoke less. This is probably due to the fact that they have better working hours, access to health clubs and gyms and may work in companies which don't allow smoking in the building.

Better Citizens

Maybe becoming a better person is your main life goal. Education helps with that too. People who have gone to advanced education are more likely to be involved in their community and giving back by helping with giving out meals to the elderly, volunteering to tutor kids after school, coaching a children's soccer team, or helping out in their children's school. Studies have shown they even vote and give blood more often. Some speculate that going to college gives people a feeling of confidence in their own abilities that makes them more likely to feel they have something to give back. Of course, the fact that college graduates do volunteer also leads to giving them more life satisfaction and a chance to be connected through these activities and make new friends.

Better Parents

Want to have children? Want to be a great parent? Getting a degree can help you do a better job. Studies consistently show that children of college-educated people come to school better prepared. They are ready to read and fully prepared to get the most out of classroom instruction. Research indicates why. Educated parents tend to spend more time reading to their children as well as talking to them more and taking them to museums and other places that broaden their understanding of the world. Of course, with better parenting, these children tend to show higher mental abilities and can concentrate better in school. Because they do well in school, this can also cause them to feel better about themselves and to do better socially.


Broader Horizon

Most Universities, especially larger ones, draw a wide variety of people. While studying, students are introduced to people from around the United States and often from around the globe. The college focuses on teaching students to understand more about ideas from the past and how events and people influenced our world today. Since many classes encourage vigorous debate and discussion, students often sharpen their ability to explain their points of view as well as gaining understanding about how other people think.

Better First Job

When you have the preparation and skills, you don't have to start on the bottom in a company. Through many higher education programs, students can be involved in internships and meet people that will help them in their future career. Professors can often also introduce college students to ideas and people that will help them not only choose a career path but have the necessary introductions to get a foot in the door. Professors are also excellent references who can attest to your willingness to work, as well as your mental ability and understanding of a subject. Moreover, many people meet friends that will later prove to be friends or partners in their careers. Frequently, higher education institutions have career centers to help graduates find that first job, and they may even have career days when employers come to campus to do interviews.


Prepares You For Real World

In spite of many sayings to the contrary, classroom work does help prepare students for a career. Of course, it is up to a student to make the most of their experience and learning. Being responsible for going to class, doing assignments and seeking help from professors and tutors is part of the learning process. The skills a student learns in managing their time and completing work on their own will directly transfer over to being a better employee. Although some students fumble at this responsibility in their first semester, the atmosphere of most campuses is designed to help them recover and learn from their mistakes. College is a good transition time for students to learn how to transition from being children to being fully mature adults, ready to take the consequences for all their own actions.

Makes Life More Interesting

The first two years of most American colleges allow students to take courses in a wide variety of topics. You can dabble in a painting class, learn about the start of the Universe and practice your Spanish. Being able to take some classes which do not directly lead to your career is a broadening experience and one that makes you a more interesting person. You may never be a professional artist or musician, but after taking studio art or music appreciation, you can have a lifetime of enjoying the beauty of art and music.

Follow Your Dreams But Be Practical

Not every college graduate has the same opportunities for employment and advancement. Even though there is a lot of reason to follow your dreams and interests, you might also want to be sure you adapt your interests to one of the more marketable career paths like:

  • Health Care
  • Education
  • Science
  • Business
  • Technology
  • Nursing
  • Engineering
  • Computer science

These are all areas with many job opportunities available. So what does that mean for a person interested in art? Instead of planning an art career or work at a museum, you might want to:

  • Get training in graphic arts.
  • Take some business classes.
  • Intern at a company doing website design.
  • Use your art in an industry where there are a lot of jobs, like health care.

Have Fun!

If you are able to go to college, remember that you join an elite group of people in the world. Less than 5% of people worldwide are able to get a higher degree. So enjoy your time and learn as much as you can!


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    • VirginiaLynne profile imageAUTHOR

      Virginia Kearney 

      7 years ago from United States

      Ciel--I really think you are right. In my town there is the large private University that I work at, and a community college which does have ties to a state school, so you can complete either a technical degree there or even finish a limited number of majors with a 4 year degree. We also have a technical college, which I think is a great idea. It offers all kinds of degrees in things like graphic design, auto repair, airplane maintenance and catering. I don't know whether those sorts of degrees are available in many places though.

    • Ciel Clark profile image

      Ciel Clark 

      7 years ago from USA

      I do think we should have better trade schools here in the USA. By the end of high school most of us know our general interest, and though university for everyone is a nice idea, a better idea might be to train people to do what they love. It doesn't have to be academic! We need all sorts of people, and one job isn't better than the other.

    • VirginiaLynne profile imageAUTHOR

      Virginia Kearney 

      7 years ago from United States

      Ciel--what a great story. Both of my parents were the first in their family to go to college. All of their kids got graduate degrees, and they also inspired my cousins to go to collge. In helping my students research a paper about Goodwill Industries yesterday, I read an article by the head of Goodwill who said that even in the lowest level non-technical jobs like driving for Fed Ex, or working Fast Food there is often now need for training beyond high school. What I found most fasinating was the idea that even some college helps, especially for women.

    • Ciel Clark profile image

      Ciel Clark 

      7 years ago from USA

      Great hub! I always tell my students that it is never too late... and then use my father as an example: he began college as a 60 year old, got his degree, and then taught until retirement. He was not a motivated student in high school and it took him a bit longer.

    • VirginiaLynne profile imageAUTHOR

      Virginia Kearney 

      7 years ago from United States

      Paying for college is certainly a large part of the issue.

    • Tiger Mom profile image

      Tiger Mom 

      7 years ago from New York

      Excellent hub, VirginiaLynne. I enjoyed your census data and how college educated parents influence their children. I'm linking my hub on how to pay for college with your parents help to your hub.

    • VirginiaLynne profile imageAUTHOR

      Virginia Kearney 

      7 years ago from United States

      Simone--Thanks for stopping by. As far as college...I felt that way right after I graduated, but after ten years as a public school teacher in California (which I loved) I was ready to go back to school again. My husband and I are really too nerdy. Even though we now teach rather than go to school, we are always making up classes for ourselves to learn new things. He's trying to learn Ableton Live so he can do studio music. I'm learning Photoshop to do digital art. We are both learning Mandarin. As I think about that, I guess I am reminded that we don't have to take classes to learn, but maybe going to college makes it easier to know how to teach yourself.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      While I have no desire to return to college, I'm really glad I went to a university (and a private one at that), and definitely enjoy many of the benefits you've outlined here! Fantastic Hub.

    • VirginiaLynne profile imageAUTHOR

      Virginia Kearney 

      7 years ago from United States

      You are right Paul. Every year I have a student or two who really is not ready to go to our private University. They don't know why they are there. They aren't sure what they want to do with their lives, or they are just not mature enough to schedule things like class or homework on their own. I should say that almost all of our students are living on campus and not at home. I think there are a lot of kids who may need to stay at home and have that support from parents as they start college. However, I think that while not everyone should head out to a four year school that costs a lot of money right out of high school, it is a good idea for everyone to continue their education some way right out of high school Even if they get a full time job and just take a continuing education course to learn a new skill. But now I'm starting on another Hub idea--"Why Everyone Should Go to College!"

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      7 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      This is an excellent hub listing all of the advantages of a college education. I feel that people who are motivated and have the ability to learn should go to college. That being said, unmotivated kids with no scholastic aptitude should not be encouraged to attend college. They would just be wasting their time and their parents money.


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