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Are you living up to your potential without a college education? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 4.4 percent of adults at the age of 5 years or older have obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher. This paper will assist in showing you why it is important to obtain a college education and point out obstacles that may stand in your way without one. Some advantages of a college education include increased salaries, more personal and professional security, greater productivity, and better lifestyles for family members.


Adults who obtain a college education are a great deal more likely to have a substantially larger salary than those who have only obtained a high school diploma. According to Day & Newburger in a report, published by the U.S. Census Bureau, an individuals lifetime earnings when they have completed a bachelor’s degree is approximately $.1 million. An individual with only a high school diploma will earn approximately $1. million in their lifetime. This $00 thousand difference more than covers the cost of a four-year degree. These figures work out to be a difference in the region of $0 thousand per year more for a bachelor’s degree. Kathleen Porter states, “A full-time student at a public 4-year college pays an average of $8,655 for in-state tuition, room and board.” Using the additional $0 thousand per year in income, it is possible to pay off any debt acquired from college in less than years after completion of the degree. Additionally, professional degrees have an even higher salary range of approximately $10 thousand per year with a lifetime earning of $4.4 million. For each level that is obtained in college, the potential salary benefits will greatly increase. This increase will allow for a continuing education well past the initial four years using only the initial increase that came with a bachelor’s degree. A bachelor’s degree will still provide an increased salary even after school expenses are taken out. This results in the salary from all levels after a bachelor’s degree coming right back into your pocket as extra income.


College degrees also bring security, mobility, and greater productivity to the individual. Job security is one of the benefits of a college degree. Employers are far less likely to fire or lay-off an employee who has obtained a college degree. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the current unemployment rate for the population 5 years and older with a bachelor’s degree is at .%. In this same age range, the unemployment rate for the population that has only achieved a high school diploma is at 5.5%. This relates to roughly 800,000 more jobless people that have only a high school education. An employee who possesses a degree has shown they are willing to work harder and that they have the skills necessary to continue learning as their job description changes. With the great amount of competition between businesses, the flexibilities that comes from these learning skills is a necessity. Job security and personal security normally go hand in hand. The job security provides the individual with a greater income, which will lessen the risk of running into financial problems in the future. Financial security is not the only type of personal security that is gained. A degree holder will also have peace of mind in knowing that their skills will help them keep a job during hard times. Less qualified individuals will not have that same peace of mind. The greater income also allows for the individual so save more money for the future which can be invested or put into a personal savings account. Next, professional mobility will be achieved. A degree will open up more opportunities, which will allow for a career that is more suitable to the individual. There will not be the urge to settle for just any job that comes along in order to pay the bills and attempt to become somewhat financially secure. The individual will now have a greater freedom to “pick and choose” and find the career opportunity which is the most desirable to that individual. Finally, an employee with a degree will be more productive. This increased productivity results in increased employer satisfaction, opportunities for increased salary. The increased productivity will result in more chances for professional advancement in their current position or improved results in the search for a new career. Employers generally begin their elimination process by eliminating prospective employees that do not have a degree when they are hiring for the more advanced, and higher paying positions. This rule is not set in stone since they also look heavily at professional experience. Professional experience should not be looked upon as a substitute for a college education though since it is generally limited to a few specific areas.


The financial, professional, and personal benefits are not only benefits for the individual, but benefits for their family members as well. The entire family will benefit from the education obtained by the individual. Family members will have the freedom and security to lead a more fulfilling and flexible lifestyle. For instance, a mother may be able to stay at home with a young child instead of taking them to day care due to the need to have two incomes has been reduced by the greater income from the father who has a degree and a large income to sustain the family on. This freedom will allow for all members to have the opportunity to fulfill their goals without as many of the challenges that are normally encountered. Children not only benefit in their younger years from these freedoms, but will also benefit as they begin to become young adults. Children will recognize early on that their family has more possessions and a closer bond than some of their friends families. As they age, children will begin to make the connection between the education level of the parent and the success that the family is sharing. Children will tend to follow in their parents footsteps. One study by the U.S. Department of Education stated, “In many families, the motivation for academic success in adolescence is derived from expectations about the future value of education. For those whose parents attended college, this is the unquestioned and unchallenged path for their children.” (p. 161) Children will have a greater urge to work harder in their basic schooling. After graduating from high school, most will have the desire to obtain a degree for themselves since they have seen the benefits that come with a degree first hand. Next, children will also have higher set of ethical standards. These standards come from the lessons learned by the parent, who has obtained a college education, which then are passed on to the child. These higher ethical standards not only benefit oneself but also society in general. As these ethical standards are passed from one generation to the next, and continuously built upon by each generation, this helps to create a society that cares more about the world around them.


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These benefits also come with some pitfalls that you may or may not have considered. The pitfalls should not prevent you from obtaining a college education but are here only so you may prepare for them in advance so that they will be less likely to cause problems once schooling has begun. Younger, first time college students will most likely not have the income to pay for the ever-increasing costs of a college education. The parents of the student generally pay for most of their child’s education which puts the financial burden on them. Student loans may be acquired to offset a portion of the burden from the student and parents, but this comes at a price also. These loans are normally for a large amount and take several years to pay off. The student must strive to complete the education and put it to use once it is completed. If the student fails to finish their higher education, the financial burdens will remain and the salary will not have increased to offset this burden, leaving a greater financial stress on the student.


One of the keys for a successful future is to obtain a college education. As we have seen, this education can greatly enhance your personal and professional life. We all desire success in our lives, a college education is one of the best routes to obtaining this goal. Throughout the process, one must keep focused on what they wish the end result to be. If this focus is lost, the college education will most likely fall out of sight and the student will fail. Finally, remember, the short-term burdens of going to school will eventually be offset by the long-term increase in salary, professional mobility, and a better personal / professional lifestyle.


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