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Home / Articles / Benefits of Going to School (Why Degree is Important)

Benefits of Going to School (Why Degree is Important)

Maybe you’ve already heard it: college equals opportunity. Well, it’s true. There are plenty of career opportunities that can be had without a college degree, but those tend to be reserved for the athletically gifted, the artistically talented and the most entrepreneurial in spirit. Most careers require a college degree, and those that don’t tend to require a degree for any kind of advancement potential.

One of the greatest benefits of a college education is money. The more education one has, the more income potential they also tend to have. Someone with a bachelor’s degree averages approximately $2.1 million in lifetime income, which amounts to half a million dollars more than their associate’s degree-bearing counterpart, and about one million more than someone with only a high school diploma.

The average bachelor’s degree runs around $24,000 from a public college and close to $90,000 from a private school. While some might balk at the expense, it’s important to realize that, in most career fields, the degree is worth it, as bachelor’s degree holders earn a half million more than those with associate’s degrees. Tuition costs of $24,000 or even $90,000 pale in comparison to the half million dollars a bachelor’s degree earner will bring home in extra lifetime earnings.

While a bachelor’s degree offers the highest payoff, that doesn’t mean everyone should go after the four-year degree. Depending on one’s career interests and goals, an associate’s degree might be the perfect option.

An associate’s degree can be completed in two years – sooner for the most motivated students – and are offered in dozens of majors, including business, technology and health care. Those who hold associate’s degrees average annual salaries of around $3,000 more than those who only have high school diplomas and around $12,000 more than high school dropouts. Associate’s degree holders earn an average of $34,000 in annual income, while the average associate’s degree only costs about $4,500 in annual tuition costs. For the average graduate, this means the degree is paid for in around three years with the salary difference.

The associate’s degree comes with myriad benefits. First, students can earn associate’s degrees in some of the most popular, fastest-growing career fields, including computers, engineering technology, medical assisting, nursing and criminal justice. Second, associate’s degree programs only take about two years to complete. Finally, anyone with an associate’s degree can opt at any time in their lives to go back to school for the bachelor’s degree.

Students with associate’s degrees can enroll in what is referred to as an accelerated bachelor’s degree program, which means students do not have to take the same classes for the bachelor’s degree that they completed for the associate’s degree. In most programs at most schools, this pretty much means picking up where you left off.

Some programs are designed especially for the returning associate’s degree student. Programs such as the RN-to-BSN program are designed for students who have RN licensure and the associate’s degree in nursing (ADN). Instead of having to repeat hands-on clinical work, these kinds of programs allow working nurses to apply their previous education and work experience to the degree and instead concentrate their time in the program to scientific and theoretical courses. Many such programs are offered online, especially convenient for those who are already working in their field, as online degree programs offer great flexibility and fit in well with demanding work schedules.

When one’s career demands more education, the associate’s to bachelor’s degree programs can be ideal. Earning that extra degree increases chances for promotions, and promotions usually come with higher paychecks. Many companies also offer tuition reimbursement as a benefit. Employees can return to school at little or no cost to them, and then reap the salary benefits that come with the degree later.

Aside from money and career potential, the benefits to a college education are seemingly endless. College life affords students the opportunity to try new things, make new friends and experience life in a whole new way. Regardless of one’s career choice, a college degree can prove to be extremely beneficial, both personally and professionally.