General Education

Top 7 Reasons Everyone Should Get a College Degree

Your parents might have been wrong about some things--no, you won't necessarily catch a cold if you go outside with wet hair--but they were right on the money when it comes to education. You've heard it many times before, and it's true: Getting a college degree is your ticket to a better future, higher earnings, better opportunities and improved quality of life. Read on to discover the top seven reasons for obtaining a college degree, or rather, the seven reasons why your parents might have been right.

A college degree is worth it

  1. Higher earnings over your lifetime: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2009, the median weekly earnings of workers with bachelor's degrees was $1,137. This amount is 1.8 times the average amount earned by those with only a high school diploma. Over a lifetime, someone with a bachelor's degree can earn 75 percent more than a high school graduate can expect to earn: $2.1 million compared with $1.2 million, according to research from the National Governors Association.
  2. Job-application edge over non-college graduates: A 2009 report by the NGA says that a college degree has become the gateway to the middle class in our modern economy. By 2014, nearly 75 percent of jobs will require a post-secondary degree or certificate. Enough said: If you want a job that pays well, you will more than likely need a college degree.
  3. The gates to knowledge: Do you know where cutting-edge technologies are developed, ground-breaking research is conducted and the next generation of entrepreneurs is being groomed? You guessed it: at universities. There's no better place to learn the newest technologies and hear about the most promising research than from the people who are intimately involved in discovery and change: your professors. Depending on the school you choose, it's quite possible that one of your professors could be a Nobel laureate, a Pulitzer Prize winner or a widely renowned scholar.
  4. Family ties: Canada, New Zealand and Japan lead the world in terms of their percentage of college graduates, according to the BLS. In the U.S., 24.4 percent of adults between the ages of 25 and 64 held bachelor's degrees, according to 2000 data from the U.S. Census Bureau. As global competition increases, American workers need to compete for jobs with those abroad, and being educated is a distinct advantage. President Obama recently set the goal that by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of students in the world graduating from college. You can also start your own family tradition: a 2002 UCLA and MIT study shows that the more educated parents are, the more likely it is that their children will attend college. According to the National Center for Employment Statistics, in 2008, the gap in the immediate college enrollment rate was 29 percentage points between students whose parents had a bachelor's degree or higher and students whose parents' highest level of educational attainment was high school or less.
  5. Seeing the bigger picture. The beauty of college, and especially of a liberal arts degree, is that it broadens your horizons, teaching you how to think critically and analyze issues, deepening your understanding of the world. Just like traveling the world changes your perspective forever, so does going to college. And it's no surprise that essentially all congresswomen and congressmen, senators, governors and executives in any industry hold at least an undergraduate degree. There is a clear correlation between educational background and achievement. And yes, we know what you are thinking: Bill Gates is the exception. But, he did go to Harvard.
  6. Make the world a better place: You don't have to save turtles off the coast of Galápagos or build houses after natural disasters to improve the world. Simply start by getting a college degree. You will be more likely find employment, and therefore will be in a position to give back to society by getting involved in volunteer work at some point in your life. According to the BLS, the facts are clear: College graduates are the most likely part of the population to get jobs. The February 2011 unemployment rate for college graduates was 4.3 percent while the unemployment rate for high school graduates was 9.5 percent.
  7. Student life: This might not be on the top of your parents' list, but college is fun. You will be exposed to things that might be completely new, including podium discussions, modern art installations, contemporary dance, intramural sports, lecture series and more. College is the great equalizer, and it doesn't matter who you were in high school: it's all about discovering who you are in college. For freshmen, living on campus is a great idea, as it will allow you to immerse yourself in the college experience, events, concerts, and much more without having to worry about transportation, cooking and other logistics. Ask any working professional about the best years of their life, and they are very likely to answer with one word: college.

Make a visit

Not convinced yet? Visit a college, attend a guided tour of the campus, talk to current students and alumni and feel the excitement and energy that's unique to college campuses. After that visit, we bet you'll come up with your own list of reasons why you should head to college where you will join a growing number of students. The Center for Education Statistics reports that undergraduate enrollment increased 24 percent between 2008 and 2008 to include 16.4 million students. Projections indicate that it will continue to increase, reaching 19 million students in 2019. Can that many students be wrong?