What is the Value of a College Degree?

In the competitive labor market of the 21st century it is becoming more and more apparent that one of the best financial investments a person can make is the choice of college. While a college degree holds value and a great potential in itself there are other factors that could either diminish or increase that value – factors: the college attended, field of study and cost or debt accumulated.

College degrees should always be assessed on the basis of their current curriculum, desirability and potential future worth. When choosing between attending school and working a person is to consider whether obtaining such a degree is worth the time and money before deciding to enrol in college. While in the long run this will, undoubtedly, make him or her more competitive on the labor market, it might lead to the accumulation of large quantities of student loan debt, especially if they come from families struggling financially.

The Economic Value of A College Degree

There are many benefits that stem from college education, most of which justifying the expenses in the process of obtaining a degree. Despite the fact that wages of high school and college graduates often do not vary significantly until after years of work experience is acquired, as a general rule college graduates earn more money during their working lives than people with high school diplomas. According to statistical data from The U.S. Census Bureau people with bachelor’s degrees earn nearly 2 million USD, associate’s degrees nearly 1.5 million USD, and high school diplomas nearly 1.2 million USD in the course of their careers.

The substantial increase in salary is just one of the good reasons to consider acquiring a college degree. Most students currently enrolled in college and universities attend public institutions as these schools do not cost as much as private or ivy-league schools. Attending public college and universities usually comes to around 8,000 USD annually, and that includes tuition, books, and living expenses. Students who attend community colleges in general end up paying around 1,300 USD for tuition annually.

While obtaining a college degree can be expensive, college graduates earn more money during their lives than those who drop out of college. In the long run attending college should be viewed as an investment that pays off later in life and contributes to a higher living standard.

In sheer monetary terms, a college graduate with a bachelor’s degree is expected to earn twice as much as a college dropout. This translates into about 1.6 million USD more in lifetime earnings than workers with a high school diploma.

The Social Value of a College Degree

Research in recent years has proven a direct correlation between college education and morality. It has been demonstrated that mothers with a college degree are more likely to spend time with their children, teaching them social values and behavior that turns them into citizens who participate actively in and contribute to their community.

This goes on to show that the advantages of a college degree are not limited to financial gain only. College graduates have significantly lower rates of unemployment and poverty than high school graduates, and are generally healthier and more adaptable.

Overall society benefits from higher education. Some of these benefits include higher tax receipts, increased public awareness about important social issues, and lower unemployment, teenage pregnancy and birth rates. Educated parents in turn are far more likely to raise children who go on and obtain a college degree as well.

College Attendance vs. College Completion

Based on recent study findings, nearly 600,000 students drop out of college every year. These people suffer the long term consequences in the form of lower and work instability. Students from community colleges are also likely to improve or develop their cognitive abilities at nearly the same rate as students at traditional colleges and universities. However there is usually a big difference in the tuition expenses at 4-year schools and community colleges, with students attending 4-year institutions ending up paying more. Given that cognitive skills development improve at the approximately same rate and community college is less expensive, individuals who are not committed to graduating should opt for attending community college. Those who enter four-year colleges or universities should commit to obtain a degree because of the time and financial investment.

Other Benefits of a College Degree

Apart from higher wages, there are numerous other benefits associated with obtaining a college degree. Many college graduates enjoy the opportunity to switch jobs and relocate based on their lifestyle preferences, they have more time for recreational activities and are able to take on different hobbies, and have a high standard of living in general Some of the greatest benefits of a college education are actually experienced during school. Students receive broad knowledge of world history, geography and socio-economy that proves to be relevant and useful throughout their entire lives. Critical thinking and the ability to form an opinion based on the methods of deduction are also two other important skills one gets to acquire in the course of attending college.

Some researchers indicate that the majority college graduates have healthier lifestyles. As a result, children of college graduates often receive a better start in life as they are aware from an early age about the importance of good nutrition and exercise. This in turn improves quality of life and life expectancy rates for college graduates and their entire families.