We all know about the obvious benefits to having a college degree -- namely, a steady job and financial security. But we often overlook other benefits to higher education: quality of life improvements that deserve to be brought into focus, whether you're on the fence about going back to school or are just having a hard time appreciating the degree you already have.
Here are just a few of the benefits you should take into account to start giving college credit where it's due, according to the College Board's newly updated study "Education Pays: The Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society":
There's just something about a college grad that makes her stand a little bit straighter and a little bit taller. It likely has to do with the boost to one's self-esteem and confidence that comes with making it through a higher education program.
Studies conducted by the College Board and others like it have found that those who have completed additional schooling are not only more well-equipped to handle mental challenges, but also report a higher level of satisfaction when doing so.
Since earning a college degree has long been considered a rite of passage, there's an extra sense of accomplishment when you reach the finish line. You've accomplished something that no one can ever take away from you.
Sure, you can lose the physical piece of paper, and you may move on from the job your degree helped you attain, but you'll never lose the work behind the journey you undertook to get your diploma. Even when tough times fall, you know you have what it takes to start something and finish it successfully, and that is priceless.
In addition to the mental boost that comes with higher education, college grads are healthier overall. Higher socioeconomic status (measured by total family income, level of education attained and professional career status) is directly correlated with better physical health and life expectancy.
This correlation seems obvious when you consider that those who earn more money have greater access to health care and healthier food options. But what you may not have considered is that higher education means the ability and desire to make better choices when it comes to habits -- eating and otherwise.
For example, those with extended educations are less likely to smoke and more likely to exercise. When you put greater emphasis on taking care of your mind with additional schooling, you naturally put greater emphasis on taking care of your body, too. It's truly as simple as when you know better, you do better.
Higher Job Satisfaction
While we're on the subject of bettering ourselves, one common reason people seek higher education is to get out of a dead-end job. Having a degree often means having an actual career rather than punching the clock to pay the bills.
That's all fine and good, you may say, but having a career means nothing if you can't keep it -- a task many are finding difficult as of late. Fortunately, a diploma gives you the upper hand when it comes to economy-driven layoffs.
Graduates not only have higher job retention rates during a recession, but also an easier time finding re-employment due to higher marketability than their non-graduate colleagues. That means less stress overall during tough economic times.
Passing on the Legacy
Finally, one of the greatest benefits to having a college education is passing on the legacy to your children. Children of a college grad are more likely to have a better quality of life and pursue extended education themselves. Those children also have a much easier time getting into good schools because their parents have emphasized the importance of an education to them. They also tend to have better grades and test scores.
As experts often state, children of college grads -- even those who don't attend college themselves -- are more motivated to reach for their dreams. They know that their parents pushed through adversity to earn their degrees, and they apply that same philosophy to going after what they want in life -- a bar that is placed that much higher by having college-educated parents.
Although financial enrichment is one of the main reasons people choose to pursue higher education, there are many other benefits to obtaining that degree. You better yourself through improved self-confidence and enhanced decision-making ability, which also betters the lives of your family members and others around you.
Lizzie Wann is the Content Director for Bridgepoint Education. She oversees all website content and works closely with New Media, Career Services and Student Services for Ashford University.
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