Many people, when faced with the decision of whether or not to go to college, find themselves asking whether or not it is worth the investment. After all, those who go to college must fork over thousands of dollars and spend several years in school when that time and money could have been spent in finding a job immediately after high school and working your way up in the professional world – all without putting it off for four or more years like college-goers do. Questioning whether or not college is worth the time and money is not necessarily a bad thing, especially when you consider that the majority of those who plan to go to college will have to take out large loans. Graduates often spend up to a decade paying off their student loans. But when all things are considered, earning a higher education is indeed worth the investment.
With the economy still struggling to leap into "prosperous" mode again, the job market is inundated with those looking for work. Unemployment is a real concern, especially as even seasoned professionals are laid off by companies looking to cut costs. With so many talented and qualified people in the job pool, employers can afford to be pickier about who they hire. Unfortunately, this means that those with less education and less experience are less likely to be hired for even entry-level positions because there are degreed individuals applying for those positions as well. In fact, the unemployment rate for workers with just a high school diploma is substantially higher than those with an associate degree, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The difference is even more drastic between high school graduates and bachelor’s degrees holders, with 9.7% high school graduates in unemployment and only 5.2% bachelor’s degree holders in unemployment, the Bureau’s 2009 findings show. The trend continues upwards, with higher degree holders having smaller and smaller unemployment rates, except for a tiny difference between the doctoral and professional degree levels.
In addition to a college degree automatically making you less likely to be unemployed, having a degree also pays off financially as well. College may cost money, but it also rewards graduates with better-paying jobs in the long run. The more advanced your degree, the more you will likely earn in your future career. For example, in 2009, the median weekly salary of workers with a high school diploma was $626, whereas those with an associate degree earned $761 per week. This means that associate degree holders made an average of $135 more per week than those with only a high school diploma. Bachelor’s degree holders earned an average of $1,025 per week, which is a whopping $399 more per week than a high school graduate. This trend continues upwards as well, with advanced degree holders earning more than less-advanced degree holders. This is because those with a degree are more educated, and therefore more likely to land positions higher than entry-level jobs. Employers trust in the skills and knowledge of those with degrees, thereby also leading degree holders to have more career mobility within a company.
All in all, if you are wondering whether or not going to college is worth the investment, consider not only how much it will cost you initially, but also how many benefits you can reap from the experience as well. College graduates less likely to be unemployed, and they are also more likely to earn hundreds to thousands more than those without a college education.
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