Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Benefits of College Education ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: Benefits of College Education
Category: Reference, Education and News > Education
Asked by: debbieann-ga
List Price: $25.00
Posted: 25 Sep 2003 13:27 PDT
Expires: 25 Oct 2003 13:27 PDT
Question ID: 260203
I Need statistics and facts supporting a decision to go to (and
complete?) college.  My youngest thinks it's only to get a better
paying job.  There must be more.
Subject: Re: Benefits of College Education
Answered By: boquinha-ga on 26 Sep 2003 23:28 PDT
Hello debbieann-ga!

Oh, there’s so much more! I’m so glad that you’ve asked this question.
It caught my eye immediately--I feel passionately about this! And I
must say that I admire you being an involved mother and proactively
searching for answers. I commend you. In today’s day and age, that is
not always the case. Your children are blessed to have someone who
cares so much about them. And as a mother myself, I applaud you.

I have been researching your question for the past couple of days and
I’ve been finding all kinds of interesting facts and statistics for
you. It hasn’t been easy to find other benefits of having a college
degree besides being able to earn higher income. Of course, the
majority of articles speak of earning higher income and while that is
a big plus with regards to a college education, it’s not everything. I
have a personal pet peeve with regard to people immediately asking the
question, “What are you going to do with it?” when they discuss
college majors/degrees with students. What a myopic view! That
question contains the implication that the only thing for which a
college degree is useful is to make more money. Much richness and
depth is lost with this kind of view.

So, let’s dive right in! I’ve been putting this research together in
as organized a manner as I can think of to present the various points
with supporting research, quotes, statistics, etc. And I’ve tried to
come up with a list of valid arguments that hopefully have some appeal
to someone who may not be that interested in going to college.
Beginning with (but not focusing on) the obvious, here is a list of
the benefits of earning a college degree:

1. By and Large, College Graduates Earn More Money

First off, I’ll state the monetary implications of a college degree,
because for some people, it helps to actually see the figures. The
most consistent approximate figure that I keep finding over and over
again in my research is that a college graduate earns about a million
dollars or more (and some reports indicate $500,00-$600,000 when that
figure is adjusted for cost of going to college and associated costs;
also, other reports adjust figures according to race, ethnicity,
gender, etc.) over the course of his or her career than their
counterparts who have not attended college. Additionally, several
articles that I read about this point factored in the cost of going to
college, taking into account wages NOT earned due to being in college
for 4 years and found that the investment is well worth it with
substantial payback.

The Value of a College Education

This website also references a statistic which states that “A study
covering the years 1989 through 1993
( found that college
graduates make about 60 percent more than high school graduates.”

See also:

If you’re interested in more numbers, check out “What is a College
Education Worth?”:

You also may want to review the Department of Labor Bureau of Labor
Statistics at:

2. College Graduates Have More Flexibility

According to the site listed as a reference in #1:  “College graduates
have more career flexibility than those who haven’t attended college.
If nothing else, those with a college education can choose to accept a
position that requires less schooling, while those with only a high
school diploma cannot choose a job that requires a college degree. In
addition, there often is more mobility in terms of where they can find
jobs both nationally and internationally.”

Getting a college degree can be viewed, at the very least, as “a hoop
through which to jump”—if you don’t want to use it then you don’t have
to, but at least you have the option as a back up. And in today’s job
market, every little bit helps. Even a college degree doesn’t
guarantee a job or keeping a job, but it helps more than not having
one. In today’s day and age, few bachelor’s degrees are marketable in
and of themselves—many require graduate degrees and experience in
order to be considered profitable. This may be discouraging to someone
who shows little interest in college, but it is a reality. The key is
finding something that fascinates or inspires you and doing something
that you enjoy and about which you feel passionately.

3. College Graduates Enjoy Better Health

Studies show that college graduates have better health and it is
speculated that it could be because they are more likely to hold jobs
with benefits such as good health insurance coverage.

Another study specifically referred to better health benefits for the
children of college graduates as well. That can be found at:

4. College Graduates are Happier/More Satisfied with Life

This particular point is discussed in research done by Ernest
Pascarella and Patrick Terenzini. They did an intense study and wrote
a book about it and it is apparently an often-referred to work of
research—I found references to this book in many, many places as I
researched your question. You may want to get a copy for yourself!
Their book is entitled “How College Affects Students: Findings and
Insights from Twenty Years of Research” and it was written in 1991.
I’ve tried to find specific content on this study for you and though
it is often referred to, I was unable to locate one site that contains
a lot of particulars of the study. The book is 900 pages long and an
article about the book can be found here: The
book is available for sale at I did find one press
release that discusses research done by this team. You can access that
here: This particular
article also cites that college graduates use technology more, read
the paper more, and view more informative television than their
non-degree counterparts.

The next several points are listed in an article found here:

5. Higher Level of Savings
6. Increased Personal and Professional Mobility
7. Better Consumer Decision-Making
8. More Hobbies and Leisure Activities
9. College Graduates Become More Open-Minded, Cultured, Rational,
Consistent, and Less Authoritarian
10. Decreased Prejudice
11. Better Knowledge of World Affairs
12. Increased Tax Revenues
13. Greater Productivity
14. Increased Workforce Flexibility
15. Decreased Reliance on Government Financial Support (after paying
off student loans, of course)

I also found a great article written by a career counselor by the name
of James C. Gonyea. Mr. Gonyea is known for starting a number of
website resources including online career guidance services and online
employment matching services. He currently maintains a site that may
be of interest to you and your child. It can be found at: and is called the Internet Career Connection.
His article adds and/or emphasizes points from the above list. It is
an article worth reading as he elaborates on the 10 points he lists as
reasons for pursuing a college education. I will summarize his 10
points here by adding them to our above list:

1.	Analytical Thinking Skills—College is a good place to contemplate
decisions, gather facts, analyze data, and draw conclusions. These
tasks are important no matter what your eventual professional path may
2.	Career Beginnings—College is an excellent place to begin to obtain
skills and knowledge necessary for many jobs.
3.	Career Advancement—Many employers use education level as a way to
screen employees for possible promotions or raises.
4.	Financial Gain—Usually, individuals with college degrees earn
higher wages.
5.	Economic Preparation—Economic courses at college help prepare
students to interact in a world with complex financial decisions.
6.	Friends and Spouses—What better place to develop new friendships
and find people with common interests?
7.	Life Awareness—A College Degree helps us to interact more
appropriately with our friends and loved ones.
8.	Lifelong Source of Advice and Information—the knowledge one gains
from a college education is carried beyond graduation. Most colleges
also provide ways for alumni to continue their learning.
9.	Purpose in Life—through varied social interactions and experiences,
individuals find opportunities to contemplate personal motivations.
10.	Self-actualization—individuals with a college education feel more
comfortable with themselves as they continually learn and grow.

The article can be found at
and I strongly encourage you to check it out.

Another site (
lists a lifetime of benefits, including a great start in life and
states, “A liberal arts education helps students acquire a wide range
of knowledge in many subjects as well as an advanced understanding of
their major subject. College also trains students to express their
thoughts clearly in speech and in writing and to make informed

Yet another site lists 5 benefits of attending and completing college.
It states, “Questioning whether you should go to college? Here are
five ways that a college education will make you a better person:

1.	It will likely make you more prosperous. 
2.	It will give you a better quality of life. 
3.	It will give you the power to change the world. 
4.	It will be something you can pass on to your children. 
5.	It makes you a major contributor to the greatest nation on earth. “

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock says this on their website,
“College will also add to your personal development by bringing you in
contact with people, ideas, and experiences you might otherwise never
have encountered.” You can see that here: and the page is entitled “The
Value of a College Education.”

Another benefit is an extrinsic one. Society benefits from
college-educated citizens. This is referred to here: Another site,
quotes Jefferson when it states, “And as Jefferson so aptly posited,
"A nation’s best defense is an educated citizenry." If you think the
price of education is expensive, try the price of ignorance. You pay
for education once. You pay for ignorance every day the rest of your
life.” This can be found here:

I hope that all of the information with which I am providing you is
useful and gives you (and your child) hope and interest! If your child
insists that college is not for him or her, I am listing several
websites that discuss the idea that college is not necessary and that
there is a growing trend of people NOT attending college and landing
great jobs in fields such as information technology (I guess that this
is kind of like debate preparation in high school where you look at
both sides). This information is interesting to read and may, at the
very least, help you feel better about the possibility of your child
not attending college. There are many jobs that do not require a
college degree, but rather some training or apprenticeship. In my
research for you, I also came across a lot of harsh negativity with
regards to college being a “waste of time” or “useless.” I personally
found it rather disheartening and I have tried to provide you with
useful, research-backed, hopeful, positive information. I have tried
to find more than subjective lists of someone’s opinion. Just about
every link lists specific points and most have footnotes and
references to actual studies, etc. for your reference and further
study should you so desire.

But, to be fair, here are some articles that discuss that it might be
“okay” NOT to earn a college degree:

Do I.T. Professionals Need a College Degree?

College Degree? Key to the American Dream?

B.A. Degrees Not Needed For Success

Is College Worth the Cost? (This article looks at both sides and is
rather brief)

I found a story that I rather enjoyed on a message board that
illustrated well the value of appreciating whatever it is you do. I
hope you enjoy it, too.

This may be of interest to you:

Boesel, D., & Fredland, E. (1999). College for all? Is there too much
emphasis on getting a  4-year college degree? Washington, DC: U.S.
Department of Education, Office of Educational     Research and
Improvement, National Library of Education.

I found that it is available online at:

And for a humorous take on the subject, the classic Dave Barry. Oh,
and I’ve heard it said that there is a little truth in humor . . .

And as one mother to another, if you’ll allow me, I’ve also thought of
some ideas that might help. Keeping in mind that I do not know how old
your child is to whom you refer, here is a list of suggestions to help
interest him or her in pursuing a college degree:

1.	Spend a day at a parent’s workplace
2.	Have the child spend a day shadowing someone who works in a career
that the child is interested in
3.	Internships
4.	Summer/after school jobs in a field of interest (or one that will
help the child get in to a field of interest), resume builders, etc.
5.	Have the child budget his or her own money—this can help the child
better understand the value of money and make the child think about
what he or she would like to earn in the future and whether or not a
college degree would be an aid in that pursuit
6.	Discuss goal setting with the child and set some together.
7.	Have the child talk with others who have “been there” (both college
grads and those who did not attend college)—be sure to also emphasize
(as this is important to children and teens especially) that college
can be a lot of fun as well!
8.	Have the child talk to school counselors, etc.
9.	Be sure to approach the child in a helpful manner with all of
this—offering food for thought vs. lecturing (but my guess is you
already know this—you are being conscientious and caring in your
pursuit of this information in order to help the child—again, that is
very commendable).
10.	Be supportive. No matter what the child decides. 

Debbieann-ga, again I applaud your efforts and your caring for your
child and his or her future. I certainly hope that this information
proves helpful to you. Is there more benefit in earning college degree
than simply earning more money? Yes, so much more! I hope you enjoy
(and find useful) the information that I have provided for you. Please
let me know if you need clarification or further assistance. Best of
luck to you!


Search Terms Used:

Value college education
Worth college education
Life value college education
There are no comments at this time.

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy