Why College Grads Earn A Million More Than Those Who Don’t Go

To be, or not to be,” that is the question asked by William Shakespeare’s, Hamlet.  The proverbial question one asks oneself when growing up is;  what do I want to be, who do I want to become, or what career do I want, to have a nice life and make a good living?  With all these questions, comes the next step, do I need to go to college to achieve my chosen goal? 

Here are the hard-cold facts;  in the United States, those workers with no more than a high school diploma are much further behind than college graduates in their economic earnings.  In two recent studies, from Georgetown University and the Pew Research Center, they found that college graduates earn $1 million more than high school graduates over their lifetime, and that the median yearly income gap between high school and college graduates is almost $20,000.  Think of what you could do with that $1 million.  Retire earlier in life, buy a nicer home, or travel. Therefore, by choosing not to go to college, you may actually be losing a significant amount of money every year of your future wealth from your 20’s going forward in your life. 

Although the burden of college costs and student debt may be significant for graduates, one needs to ask, is this student debt worth it?  Let’s take another look at the studies and research that have been done about prospective earnings income in your lifetime and the benefits of having a college education.

According to data compiled by the Economic Policy Institute, college graduates on average, earned 56% more than high school graduates. 

Since the economic downturn of 2009,  there has been a higher demand for educated workers. College graduates have not only taken most of the new jobs created, but also at much higher salaries. High school graduates by contrast, have faced declining job opportunities as well as a decrease in their income. 

According to the Public Policy Institute of California, when asked about the current workforce, 83% of Californians say that a four-year degree from a college and university is required to prepare for a well-paying job in today’s economy.  The evidence that a college degree significantly improves one’s employment prospects and earnings potential is significant.  Those with bachelor’s degree are half as likely to be unemployed as their peers who only have a high school degree. Education has been the determining factor to a better way of life for those who have chosen to go to college. 

We have all heard the stories of people dropping out of college like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg who have created multi-million-dollar companies but remember these are few and far between. It is possible but more unlikely, and an education has always been the basic stepping-stone to success.

During this past decade there has been a growing disparity within the United States, which has been a source of contention for millions of Americans between the haves and the have nots.   Education has become the economic demarcation between those who have been able to reap the economic benefits of a better lifestyle.   College education is not just about securing a better job. It leads to a healthier fulfilling life.  College graduates are almost 50% more likely to have health coverage which is provided through their employers who contribute to their health coverage.  Life expectancy is also longer for college graduates. 

Another factor of graduating from college which comes from another study at the Pew Research Center is that college graduates are more likely to experience job satisfaction. Their job is their career and for over 70% it gives them a sense of self identity as compared to 39% of workers with no college education.

In a report from the real estate company, Zillow, it was found that college graduates are more likely to be homeowners and that 75% of home buyers were college educated compared to just 11% who had only a high school diploma.

Couple reviewing finances

According to a report from the Lumina Foundation, college graduates had a better understanding of finances, were able to get better and cheaper forms of credit  and were almost 10 times more likely to have a bank account than those with only a high school degree. Additionally, according to the Lumina Foundation report, college graduates were better citizens. 40% of those graduates volunteered in their community compared to 17% of high school graduates. And, college graduates also donated three times more money to charity than high school only educated workers

Study after study, report after report about higher education, show the value of getting a college education. The personal and financial rewards to getting a degree and graduating from college far outweigh the costs for the average student.  Despite the student debt derived from attending college, the positive impact on one’s life are enormous.  Although college tuition is increasing, it is still the best investment you can make, which is in yourself.  You cannot take away your education.  It will always be with you.  

Bottom line, not attending college can cost you the chance of being a better person and having a more fulfilling  life. 

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