When considering college, it may seem as though the odds are stacked against you.
Tuition costs, non-guaranteed jobs after graduation, substantial student loan debt, and other post-grad financial stressors are what await graduates in the 21st century. All these factors increasingly prompt the question, "Is college worth it?"
According to research by the Federal Reserve, attending college is (still) definitely worth your time. Here are three crucial reasons why.
A Higher Salary & More Employment Options
The pay gap between employees with a bachelor's degree and those with a high school degree is at a record high, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The average college graduate earns an average of $1,137 per week, while employees with a high school degree earn a weekly average of $678. The gap is higher when compared to employees who obtain post-graduate or doctoral degrees (an average weekly salary of $1,623) compared to those with some or no college education (weekly average wages of $738).
If you're wondering if these stats only apply to Ivy League school graduates, the Economic Policy Institute numbers say that everyone who obtains at least a bachelor's degree experience similar benefits.
Not only will a college degree help you make more money, but it can safeguard both job security and earnings long-term, too. Not going to college could actually cost you $1 million in lifetime wages, put you at risk for higher unemployment rates (17.9 percent), and offer you minimal options for full-time employment.
Greater Access to Health Insurance And Retirement Benefits
Companies hiring college graduates offer more benefits and typically invest more in their employees. Both health insurance and retirement plans are less attainable for high school graduates. Here's a breakdown.
- Employer-provided health insurance was accessible to 70 percent of college graduates, as opposed to 50 percent of high school graduates in 2008.
- Seventy percent of college graduates 25 years old and older had a retirement plan (or had access to one) in 2008, as opposed to 65 percent for graduates with an associates degree, 55 percent for high school graduates, and 30 percent for those who did not finish their high school graduation.
More Opportunities for Career Exploration & Network-Building
College is the perfect place to establish your most important career connections. Your professors are the most accessible contacts in your potential industry and serve as an essential first introduction to job openings. College also provides multiple opportunities to attend job fairs, pursue internships, and establish a solid foundation for a job post-grad.
According to Harvard Business School, 65-85 percent of jobs are acquired through networking. College students can join clubs, fraternities or sororities, attend conferences, and participate in various events and social functions that allow them to meet with new people who could potentially connect them to a job in the future. College graduates also have access to extensive alumni networks they could tap into for mentorship and career-related consultation.
College is also the ideal time to explore your interests! You'll have multiple opportunities to get involved in activities and organizations on and outside of campus. You could take advantage of your college's career services, take part in volunteer opportunities, and enroll in career exposure workshops.
Over 80 percent of college students complete an internship before they graduate, giving them a headstart in the workforce and valuable industry experience in their desired field.
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Scientist-turned-founder and CEO Justine Sinclair believes a supportive community composed of like-minded people can turn dreams into reality.
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