If you are about to graduate from high school and weighing your options, consider the benefits of pursuing a college education. Enrolling in college is a big investment of your time, money and effort, but the lifelong advantages may surprise you. Knowing more about your interests and the reasons why attending college is a solid choice are the first steps to creating a better future.
If one of your goals is a higher income, a college education is likely the best choice. In 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated that college graduates had a median weekly salary that was 61 percent higher than high school graduates. The level of degree you earn also impacts lifetime earnings. For example, a 2011 report by the Georgetown Public Policy Institute indicates that high school graduates with some college but no degree who work in accounting have lifetime earnings of around $1 million, compared to $2 million for college degree holders working in the same field. The data still indicate salary gaps for women and ethnically diverse people. A college education positively impacts wage earning for these groups, but their wages are still lower.
Did you know that obtaining a college education helps you become more connected to your community? A 2006 study by the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement shows that college-educated adults are more likely to volunteer, help with community problems and become more civically involved. The broader awareness of national and global issues that comes from general education courses and class learning will expand your awareness and even encourage you to reinvest in your community. In college, you will be encouraged to join student organizations, assume leadership roles and immerse yourself in campus issues. All of these opportunities contribute to a broader understanding of the responsibilities of citizenship.
Your chances of being employed are greatly increased by going to college. In 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the unemployment rate for high school students was at 8.3 percent versus 4.5 percent for college graduates. If you are interested in upper-management positions, a college degree is necessary. In fact, a college education is a must for top-level positions in Fortune 1000 companies. Many businesses are even paying the tuition to ensure their employees obtain a college education. College education is a ticket for holding onto a job.
Beyond job security and salary incentives, pursuing a college education will help you experience a better quality of life. You are likely to save more money and provide more opportunities for your family if you have a college education. A job that requires a college education will also provide more flexibility. For example, you will have paid vacation time and the ability to participate in things that interest you outside of work. This will help you feel balanced in life and work responsibilities, and encourage health and wellness activities.
Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years. She has numerous publications with Talico, Inc., DynaTEAM Consulting, Inc. and Kinect Education Group.