The Benefits of Going to College

By Susan J. Demas

No doubt about it. College is costly, challenging, and time consuming. So why go? What are the top benefits of going to college, and are they worth the hassle and expense?

  1. It's all about the Benjamins. College graduates, on average, make a whopping one million dollars more in lifetime earnings than those with a high school diploma. Talk about motivation for staying in school. Spend money on college now, and you'll probably get it back in spades.
  1. Unemployment insurance. Did you know that a college degree is the best way to protect yourself against unemployment? College educated individuals have much lower rates of joblessness than those with a high school diploma or less education. In a changing economy, job security is a big bonus.
  1. Make yourself marketable. Even in states with high unemployment, there are thousands of jobs that go unfilled. Why? Many jobs in the fastest-growing industries such as health care, education, and business support services require a bachelor's degree or above-and the number keeps growing. Right now, there aren't enough qualified workers. There's your opening!
  1. The incredibly shrinking blue-collar sector. On the flip side, there are fewer options for those without college degrees now-and there will be even fewer in the future. Occupations losing the most jobs are clerks, cashiers, telemarketers, packagers, and farmers. There's more competition for jobs that pay less and have less security. Investing in a college degree is a much better deal-you have more options that pay better, too!
  1. Health and happiness. Those with college degrees have better health, exercise more, and smoke less. This is related to the fact that their employers are likelier to offer better health plans and perks like gym memberships. College educated people also volunteer and vote more, making them more active in their communities. Hitting the books can cause a ripple effect on other areas of your life. Who knew?



Susan J. Demas is a contributing editor to EduGuide and 2006 Knight Foundation Fellow in Nonprofits Journalism.