Saturday, October 30, 2010

Top 10 benefits of a college degree

The list below describes ten benefits of a college education. While the list is encouraging, I found it interesting that none of the ten benefits of college education had anything to do with gaining personal knowledge...

A college degree pays off financially and intangibly for the graduate – and for society at large, says a report from the College Board. Here are 10 top benefits:

10. Better-prepared kids
Parents with advanced degrees are three times more likely to read to their kids every day than parents who haven’t finished high school, and twice as likely to participate in other educational activities like visiting museums and libraries.
The payoff? Children of highly educated parents are three times more likely to start school already knowing their alphabet and how to count to 20.

9. Fewer social costs
High school graduates are three times more likely to live in poverty than college graduates, and eight times more likely to depend on public assistance programs
For every female high school student who goes on to attend college, society saves $48,600 over her lifetime. For every African-American male who goes on to finish college instead of dropping out of high school, society saves $294,000.

8. More tax revenue
Higher salaries for college means more money for the government, which matters to policymakers. “The typical college graduate pays, on average, 80 percent more in taxes each year than the typical high school graduate,” according to the College Board report. For those with advanced degrees, the tax benefits to the government are even better. Doctors and lawyers might grouse that they pay 3-1/2 times as much in taxes as high school graduates do. Then again, they earn three times as much.

7. More volunteering and voting
The share of people who donate their time to organizations and the number of hours that they spend in volunteer activities are higher among individuals with higher levels of education. Most volunteer for religious organizations (34 percent) or youth-related services (26 percent).
At every age group, the more educated someone is, the more likely she is to vote. It’s most dramatic among 18- to 24-year-olds, where college graduates are 2-1/2 times as likely to vote as those who haven’t finished high school.

6. Fewer smokers
Between 1998 and 2008, the smoking rate declined from 14 percent to 9 percent among college grads, while the rate for high school grads barely dropped, from 29 percent to 27 percent.
Of people with advanced degrees, 70 percent never smoked, only 3 percent choose to keep smoking, and the rest have quit or are trying to. Of people who didn’t finish high school, half have never smoked, a third have quit or are trying to, and 15 percent choose to maintain the habit.

5. More exercise, less fat
Those with more education are more likely to exercise than those with less education. College-educated adults are also less likely than others to be obese or have obese children. These results hold for all age groups.

4. Higher job satisfaction
In 2008, about 60 percent of people who had attended college – whether or not they’d completed a degree – reported that they were very satisfied with their jobs. Only 50 percent of high school graduates and 40 percent of high school dropouts could say the same. People with job satisfaction were three times as likely to say that they were very happy.

3. Better recession protection
College graduates’ employment rose 2 percent between the first quarter of 2007 and the first quarter of 2010, despite the great recession. Every group with lower education levels saw employment numbers decline. Those hardest hit were those who hadn’t finished high school. One in 5 for them has lost a job, compared with 1 in 100 for high school graduates and those with some college education.

2. More benefits, higher pensions
Only half of high school graduates have employer-provided health insurance or pension plans, but almost 70 percent of college graduates do. Also, while 93 percent of college grads participate in employer-matching pension plans if they're available, only 3 in 4 of those who didn’t complete high school do, meaning that 1 in 4 pass up essentially free money from their employer.

1. Increased earning potential
Everyone knows the price of a college degree, but fewer know the price of not getting one: $22K a year.
In 2008, median earnings of college graduates were $55,700, which was $21,900 more than the median earnings of high school graduates who hadn’t attended college.
See the list at: Top 10 benefits of a college degree


  1. Correlation is not equal to causation. People who are civic minded, care about their health, and tend to be successful at work might also value education more and therefore are more likely to go to college than the general population. Studies like this one imply that convincing a marginal person to pursue college or providing more funding for that person will lead to these social benefits. No evidence is provided to support that.

  2. That is an important point, JMW. College students do not represent the general population as only a small selected group goes to college. Confusing correlation with causation is (unfortunately) a very common fallacy.