Education beyond high school typically leads to greater career opportunities and significantly more income during your lifetime. Along with job and pay limitations, only earning a diploma may contribute to less fulfilling relationships and less healthy lifestyles. Understanding these quality-of-life effects is important when deciding whether to continue your education.
A high school diploma generally doesn't allow as desirable employment options as a college degree. A February 2013 article in "The New York Times" indicated that careers that historically required a diploma for entry-level now more commonly require associate or bachelor's degrees. The article also discussed a 45-employee Atlanta law firm that only hires college graduates, even for reception and filing work. High school diploma holders are often limited to unskilled or semi-skilled positions involving routine, less-challenging types of work. Given the amount of time people spend at work, having a less meaningful or uninspiring career can severely impact quality of life.
Money may not always buy happiness, but it certainly affords a better quality of life from a material perspective. Although a high salary is not guaranteed, people with college degrees typically earn significantly more than diploma holders. The website "55,000 Degrees" prepared a graphic using U.S. Census Bureau data indicating that Louisville residents with a bachelor's degree earned 71 percent more than those with diplomas in 2010. The Bureau of Labor Statistics noted a similar 63 percent difference in 2012 median income between people holding a diploma and those with a bachelor's degree.
Health and Retirement Plans
A September 2007 study by the College Board showed that bachelor's holders were more likely to live healthy lifestyles and to have quality health plans and retirement benefits through employers. Solid health plans increase access to top preventative and treatment-based healthcare providers. Quality retirement plans allow workers to tuck away a portion of earnings. This leads to improved flexibility with lifestyle choices during retirement.
The College Board also indicated that more education leads to a better understanding and acceptance of people from different backgrounds. This increases opportunities to develop positive social and working relationships. Additionally, the Board noted that college grads are more likely to volunteer, give blood and become active community members. This not only allows for personal and professional networking, but also benefits communities with high numbers of college graduates.