Is now the right time to go to college?
In this economy?
Why not jump right into a job and start earning a paycheck now?
You may not hear a typical high school junior or senior ask these questions out loud, but the thought has probably crossed their minds as they grapple with the idea of what life might look like after high school.
Earning your college degree is a significant investment — one that is likely to pay off with higher salary potential in the long run. This is especially true if your degree means you can find a fulfilling career while potentially having a meaningful impact on your community.
To help you weigh all the pros and cons of earning your college degree, we’re going to review the impact higher education has on society and what that impact could mean for you personally.
The Value of Higher Education
Higher Education Increases Your Earning Potential
It’s totally fair to need more than high-minded ideas about the impact and value of higher education on the world and your community. After all, you have your day-to-day life, responsibilities, and ever-rising cost of living to contend with.
According to the Pew Research Center*, those with less education are more likely to fall out of the middle class each year. With rising costs of goods and services, you can secure your economic stability with a college degree.
On average, people who hold a bachelor’s degree earn $525 more per week than those with a high school diploma** — that adds up to more than $27,000 additional income per year with a bachelor’s degree. That number often goes even higher with a master’s degree.
The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce calculates that a college education can increase your lifetime earning potential by more than $1.2 million.
“During my time at UB I was a student working hard, but also a husband and father. I received a quality education and the support from the UB faculty and staff, which enabled me to be successful in my career and a great provider for my family.” -Matt Peterson, PA-C
You’re More Likely to Save for Retirement and Less Likely to Experience Unemployment
You’re just starting your college and career journey and are likely not thinking about your retirement yet. While we would all love to retire early, the truth is, thanks to advancements in healthcare and medical technology, we’re living longer and longer, and we need to account for that in our retirement plans. Saving early and often for your retirement is an excellent step in the right direction when it comes to life planning.
With a bachelor’s degree, you’re more likely to have the additional income to plan and save for retirement — you’re also more likely to have access to employer-sponsored retirement plans where your employer helps contribute to your retirement savings.
To plan for retirement, you need job security to justify sending money towards your retirement each paycheck. By earning a college education, you can rest a little easier knowing you’ll have a more secure future. The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes an “Employment Projections” report each year. In 2022, people over the age of 25 with a bachelor’s degree were less likely to experience unemployment than their peers without a bachelor’s degree. In fact, the unemployment rate for those with a bachelor’s or master’s degree is below the national unemployment rate.
“The Office of Career Development at UB was a huge asset to me. I got my first internship through UB career development, which gave me a foot in the door to a very competitive field. I still check in with their office every now and then. The support they provided me was instrumental in getting me the career I have today.” – Joe Perkus.
You’ll Be at the Forefront of Research and Innovation
Colleges and Universities regularly lead the charge when it comes to advancing our knowledge of the world around us. When you enter college, you’ll be an active participant in the enterprise and research that pushes us forward into the 21st century.
College and university programs pioneer changes in how we look at our energy consumption, nutrition and food security, healthcare and healthcare access, and much more. No matter what you choose to study in college, you’ll learn from experts in their fields looking to train the next generation of forward thinkers (that’s you!).
“Since graduating with my master’s degree in Human Nutrition, I’ve started a podcast. The podcast allows me to reach thousands of people with the nutritional wisdom I learned at UB. We have listeners in 55 different countries! I’ve had the opportunity to interview experts in clinical nutrition, and my business partner and I are working on producing a documentary next!” – Elanie Welch
There’s More Opportunity if You’re a First-generation College Student
Higher education holds significant value for first-generation college students, providing unique opportunities and benefits that can last a lifetime.
Here are some ways that a college education can be particularly valuable if you’re a first-generation college student:
- Access to resources
- Breaking stereotypes
- Civic engagement and leadership
- Higher earning potential
- Increased social mobility
- Networking opportunities
- Personal growth and confidence
- Skill development
“I came to University of Bridgeport with a mission to be the first college graduate in my family. No matter the challenges that I have faced over these past four years, I will always thank UB for giving me the best college experience that I could’ve asked for.” –Timothy Prince
It’s important to note that while higher education offers many benefits, it also comes with unique challenges for first-generation students. Paying for college, academic pressures, and feelings of isolation can impact your success while going to college.
At UB, we understand the challenges you face while trying to secure a better future for yourself. That’s why we offer the comprehensive support services you need to get through college and into a secure career. We believe in your ability to make a positive impact on yourself, your family, and your community, which is why we are with you every step of the way!
You’ll Be a Part of Something Bigger
Let’s zoom out a little and look at the value of higher education from a societal standpoint.
Colleges and universities in many, if not most, states are significant driving factors in local and regional economies. Colleges help create jobs, boost local economies, and increase civic engagement among students, staff, and neighboring community members.*
Higher education is also the force behind technological innovations, medical advances, and evolutions in how we understand the world around us. The discussions happening today at institutions of higher education will influence the way we function as a society in the future. As college students think about our understanding of social issues, they will become policymakers reflecting on that understanding in the future.
The culture of research and curiosity in higher education is difficult to recreate anywhere else. Even the entrepreneurs who spur economic change most likely developed their passion and drive for innovation during their time in college. Ultimately, college offers the exciting prospect of being a part of cultural and societal change bigger than yourself.
“As a UB student, I worked with skilled and experienced faculty members who helped me gain the knowledge and skill set that I needed for a career where I contribute to my community. I currently work as a Full Stack Net Developer on a government-funded project that helps provide affordable housing services to New Yorkers experiencing homelessness.” -Apson Shrestha
Learn more about University of Bridgeport’s career-focused certificates and programs by visiting us today!
*Source: The National Association of College and University Business Officers Report, “More is Possible with Higher Education,” 2023.
**U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022