The benefits of higher education
Throughout history, universities have brought a lot of benefits to the individuals who had the privilege of attending them, as well as the society in general. In the 21st century, as new discoveries keep appearing coupled with constant technological innovation, higher education has never been more beneficial to the individual and the society of a country in general alike. Namely, the increasing rate of individuals with higher education diplomas appears to be among the crucial factors in the advancement of the global economy and the improvement of the people’s quality of life.
However, even though many indicators suggest the importance of higher education and the numerous benefits it brings along, only 51% of Americans consider higher education very important (Marken, S. 2019, December 30). To dispel any doubts that you might have about the importance of a college degree, we are going to list some personal benefits that accompany the completion of higher education, as well as auxiliary benefits that the society you live in gets as the rate of highly educated people in the population increases.
What all future high school graduates would like to know is: “Will a bachelor’s degree bring me more certainty about the future and increase my well-being?”. According to a lot of research, continuing education through undergraduate/graduate studies after finishing high school definitely brings a lot of benefits to young people, including the increased chances of a higher salary and employment, a chance of pursuing further knowledge in a particular area, adequate preparation for a career, as well as a number of practical and health benefits.
It should be noted that the research considered for this article represents a general overview of success rates of students from all scientific fields (from humanistic to natural sciences), which means that there is no guarantee that each diploma brings along the same degree of personal benefits that will be discussed further on.
Higher salaries and employability (Financial benefits)
Of course, worth mentioning is the fact that people with college degrees have more potential for higher incomes and employment rates. People with a bachelor’s degree or higher make more than the $900 per week median for all workers (including those with high school diplomas and lower degrees of education), and their unemployment rate is only 3.6%. It should also be noted that the median salary for young people (22–27) with a bachelor’s degree is $44,000, while the median for people with a high school diploma is $30,000 per year (Zumbrum, “Income for Recent Graduates the Highest in Over a Decade”, Wall Street Journal). Therefore, if you want a higher salary and better employment opportunities, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business or natural or technical sciences is certainly recommended.
Career specialization and preparation
This benefit is especially important for those who are not quite sure about the field in which they would like to spend their entire career. It is wildly unrealistic to demand from a high school graduate to know what they would like to spend the rest of their life doing. Accordingly, the point of higher education is to narrow down the student’s interests, perfect the existing skills and prepare the students for the job that awaits them upon the completion of their studies.
This approach allows for a certain time to gain better insight into the suitable areas, those in which they can realize their full potential. Accordingly, the student can embark upon higher education with one goal and finish it with quite another, and still be completely prepared for the job market.
From the first day of studies, young people face a great number of assignments, discussions and courses with deadlines. Therefore, in the process of fulfilling their educational obligations, the students gain a wide range of skills that contribute to their comprehensive personal development.
- You become more productive – Whether they want it or not, students don’t have much choice when it comes to delaying their obligations. Namely, due to very tight deadlines, students simply learn how to make the appointed time fit their schedule.
- Identifying new skills – Students often think that they have discovered all important skills in high school and that the only thing they can do is increase the knowledge in the field in which they have decided to study. However, practice has shown that, due to the wide range of topics and content the students often encounter, they find their horizons expanding when it comes to new opportunities and possibilities, which often results in the acquisition of new skills.
- Acquiring better communication skills – During their studies, students are often obliged to work in groups, participate in group discussions and present their arguments in front of their fellow students, which makes it easier to transfer their knowledge and information to others later on.
- Improves your self-esteem and self-confidence – For many students, acquiring a college degree represents a great achievement, especially if they come from a low-income household or they are the first in their family to get a shot at higher education. The very act of receiving a diploma, along with the experience gained in college, gives students a sense of self-realization and dignity that no one can take away.
- The development of critical thinking – Any higher education institution ought to have the highest possible output of persons with critical thinking skills as its final goal. For many, the first thing that comes to mind when critical thinking is mentioned is debating and exchanging ideas with colleagues, which certainly is a useful method. However, the most useful method for developing critical thinking is through written assignments, where the student is required to present their beliefs that are often not logically coherent. Through this process, the student moves away from confusing, sometimes logically inconsistent thinking, becoming better at perceiving flaws in their thinking and reassessing their own opinions.
- Raising the awareness of the importance of discipline – Anyone who has finished their studies efficiently and with the desired average grade must have been aware of their personal responsibility. To meet their own expectations, the students must know how to manage their time and to prioritize among their obligations, which, in the end, results in the possession of discipline that leads one towards the desired outcome.
Socializing and networking
Socializing might be one of the most important factors in higher education. Namely, the students often have a chance to meet people from all over the world. Through exchanging their beliefs, students can often come up with new ideas that might result in creating new inventions or initiating a wider network of people who share the same set of values. In addition to the exchange of ideas, there is an exchange in cultural values, which constitutes an invaluable wealth for any individual.
A happier and healthier life
It is interesting to note that the parameters of a person’s general well-being rise with acquiring an academic degree. Some of the crucial facts related to people with some level of higher educational attainment are the following:
- decreased chance of a heart attack;
- they live as many as 7 years longer than people who never attended college;
- thanks to better social skills, they experience less job-related stress and have generally lower stress levels;
- they have a smaller risk of developing a mental illness.
Social benefits of higher education
The personal benefits of individuals with an academic degree are often reflected in society at large. Some of the benefits the society gains through the introduction of new highly educated members include:
The factor which is often viewed as the root of the problem of poverty among a population is insufficient education. An increase of the number of highly educated individuals is often related to the general economic growth of the country, due to the presence of individuals whose specialized skills can contribute to various industries. As the student acquires a degree, they gain insight into the bigger picture of the problems their family used to face, which, in turn, enables them to make adjustments when it comes to the upbringing of their own children. Also, like we have already said, persons with higher educational attainment have higher average salaries, which enables the students to break the circle of poverty in their families.
In the last decade, climate problems have become one of the main topics faced by every country. Research has shown that individuals with academic degrees have more awareness and knowledge about climate change. This knowledge can easily be directed towards the advancement of the methods and regulations concerning sustainability in companies where they work, as well as in society in general.
Promotes good citizenship and reduces crime
Every educational institution aims to produce good, constructive citizens who will know how to abide by the law. People with higher education pay higher taxes (which, in turn, increases the resources the country can reallocate to the areas where they are needed the most) and pay health insurance, as well as social insurance (which means lower probability of bankruptcy and homelessness).
If we look at the research on people on the wrong side of the law, we can see that the probability of incarceration is 5 times lower for persons with any level of academic degree. It should also be noted that as much as 68% of prisoners did not finish high school.
Equality and empowerment
Education in general, and especially higher education, empowers women and men from ethnic minorities that underwent years of social stigmatization. Acquiring an academic degree decreases the level of gender discrimination, as well as the level of violence against women. This is a very important benefit for women, as it empowers them to be independent and take responsibility for their own life into their own hands.
Have you changed your mind?
We have listed only the most important benefits that accompany higher education, but there are many more. Our goal was to provide a bigger picture regarding the importance of higher education for your future. So, before you reconsider whether to apply for college by the end of high school, remember all the benefits that might await you upon the acquisition of an academic degree and then make the right decision.