Is College Important?

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Is college important? Absolutely. Education is often the best tool for creating wealth and happiness. On virtually every measure of economic well-being and career attainment—from personal earnings to job satisfaction to the share employed full time—young college graduates are outperforming their peers with less education. And when today's young adults are compared with previous generations, the disparity in economic outcomes between college graduates and those with a high school diploma or less formal schooling has never been greater in the modern era.

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I greatly value and appreciate my college degree. When times get tough (as they most inevitably will) it is very reassuring to know that I have my education to fall back on. A college education has allowed me to provide for my family and to reinvent my career so that i could be afforded the flexibility to work from home if needed. It may not sound like that is important but with young children and elder-care, increased work-place flexibility has been crucial to making everything work. Here are some amazing statistics to help you make your decision.

1. College Grads Make More Money

  • Young adults with just a high-school diploma earned 62 percent of the typical salary of college graduates. That's down from 81 percent in 1965, the earliest year for which comparable data are available. The analysis by the Pew Research Center shows the increasing economic difficulties for young adults who lack a bachelor's degree in today's economy that's polarized between high- and low-wage work. As a whole, high-school graduates were more likely to live in poverty and be dissatisfied with their jobs, if not unemployed.
  • The report found that not only does a college degree typically yield much more inflation-adjusted earnings than before, but a high-school diploma also is now worth less. That adds to a widening earnings gap that Pew researchers found mirrors the U.S. gap between rich and poor.
  • For instance, college graduates ages 25 to 32 who were working full time now typically earn about $17,500 more annually than employed young adults with just a high school diploma ($45,500 vs. $28,000); those with a two-year degree or some college training earned $30,000. In 1965, before globalization and automation wiped out many middle-class jobs in areas such as manufacturing, the inflation-adjusted gap was just $7,449.
  • Meanwhile, median earnings for high-school graduates have fallen more than $3,000, from $31,384 in 1965 to $28,000 last year.
  • Young adults with just high-school diplomas now are also much more likely to live in poverty, at 22 percent compared to 7 percent for their counterparts in 1979.

2. College Grads Live a Longer, Healthier, Happier Life

  • A survey by Public Health Services indicates that those with a college education have longer life expectancies. They also tend to exercise more and play more sports.
  • According to a recent study from USC, children of college-educated individuals are more likely to graduate from high school and attend college and have higher cognitive skills.
  • College students tend to have jobs that are more meaningful and interesting and allow them more freedom to make decisions at work.
  • College students are more satisfied with their careers and daily life.
  • College students have higher self-esteem and more self-direction.
  • They are better at solving problems and handling day-to-day decisions.

A Unique History in Higher Education

WGU was founded by the governors of 19 U.S. states. At no other time in the history of higher education have the governors of several states joined together to create a university. WGU is also supported by over 20 major corporations and foundations who believe in WGU's commitment to producing highly competent graduates. WGU is one of the best values in online education, the online university provides a convenient and cost-effective way for self-directed, hardworking adults like you to earn your degree and get ahead.

Click here to use this unique code to waive your WGU application fee!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Western Governors University. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Meridith Dennes is a co-founder and the CEO of Project Eve LLC, a leading women's lifestyle media company online including some of the web's best loved communities including the eponymous Project Eve, Getting Balance, Project Eve Moms, Project Eve Money and Scary Puppy Silly Kitty. With a digital readership in excess of 20+ million monthly uniques, and over 1 million social media followers, Project Eve provides the news and resources to inspire and empower women. Meridith also works as a digital consultant and social media strategist and has worked with several Fortune 500 companies to help increase brand awareness and improve social media engagement.Meridith holds a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from NYU's Stern School of Business. Prior to founding Project Eve, she spent 15 years working in investment banking. Meridith currently lives in Vermont with her husband and 2 daughters and spends her free time teaching skiing, practicing yoga, hiking and snowshoeing.