Getting a bachelor’s degree used to be a means for students to differentiate themselves from the competition in a highly competitive employment market. However, one out of every three persons has a four-year degree as of 2015, making it usual to be one of many in a pool of job hopefuls with this level of education.
Is this to say that a bachelor’s degree isn’t valuable? Is it even relevant in today’s world of self-employed business owners and start-up entrepreneurs? Is it a worthwhile investment, given the possibility of student loan debt?
Finally, the answer is that it is entirely up to you. If the bachelor’s degree is a good fit for you, it will be determined by your life goals, including your job aspirations.
On the other hand, earning a college diploma is critical for many people in today’s economy. So let’s look at the advantages of receiving a bachelor’s degree and how your specific educational goals and lifestyle choices should be considered while making such a big decision.
The Benefits of Having a College Degree
1. Increased Access to Job Opportunities
A bachelor’s degree opens doors to rewarding opportunities that would otherwise be closed to you. For example, college graduates have 57 percent more career options than non-graduates, and two-thirds of all jobs are expected to require postsecondary education by 2020. A degree qualifies you for these additional changes and gives you more options for where you want to work.
Degree holders have access to more opportunities than high school graduates, but the available ones are also more accessible. According to Burning Glass Technologies’ study, two million new jobs are offered online that demand a bachelor’s degree or more every quarter.
These online job ads are the primary tool for job seekers to locate and apply for available positions. Unfortunately, while over 80% of all job vacancies for workers with a bachelor’s degree or more are listed online, only 50% of jobs requiring a high school diploma are, making it more difficult for these individuals to connect with potential employers.
A college education also broadens your horizons by introducing you to a lifelong network of coworkers, advisors, instructors, and mentors. This network can open doors and connect you to industry experts to share ideas and explore new enterprises throughout your career.
2. Preparation for a Specialized Career
The work market evolves in tandem with the rest of the world. Technology, education, and health care are three of the fastest-growing professions for a reason: they advance so quickly that only the most capable people can keep up. Obtaining a bachelor’s degree will assist you in developing the necessary abilities and habits to make a life in these fields.
While not all degrees lead to particular employment (for example, English, philosophy, or political science), many are designed with a specific career path. For instance, a funnel for teaching positions is built into an educational degree; other health degrees also have mainly specialized jobs waiting for individuals who earn them.
3. Increased Marketability
As the demand for talented, college-educated professionals grows, having a bachelor’s degree will keep you in order. Postsecondary education is required for nearly 80% of the four fastest-growing occupations: healthcare, STEM, education, and government services.
As a result, it’s anticipated that there will be 13 million bachelor’s degree-required positions accessible by 2020. Even though 36 percent of Americans aged 25 to 36 have a college diploma, the United States will still be five million qualified workers short of meeting a business need by 2020.
You’ll learn skills to offer a competitive advantage in the job market as you work toward a bachelor’s degree. Employers today are looking for candidates with excellent communication, leadership, critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytical abilities.
You’ll have access to rigorous coursework and hands-on learning opportunities in college, which will equip you with these abilities and make you more appealing to employers.
4. Increased Earning Potential
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released the average income for people with various education degrees. The evidence is clear: the higher your level of education, the higher your wage.
The difference in earning power is striking:
- Those without a high school diploma can expect to earn an average of $520 per week, or $27,040 annually.
- Those with high school diplomas can earn an average of $712 weekly or $37,024 annually.
- Associate degree holders earn an average of $836 per week or $43,472 annually.
A bachelor’s degree is associated with a significant increase in earnings. Bachelor’s degree holders earn $1,173 a week on average or $60,996 per year. This is approximately $25,000 more than associate degree holders and more than $17,500 more than high school graduates.
5. Economic Stability
Over 8.4 million (95%) of the 11.6 million jobs generated since 2010 have been those with a bachelor’s degree. Meanwhile, the employment available to high school graduates has increased by only 80,000. It’s hardly surprising that bachelor’s degree holders have a lower jobless rate than high school graduates. For example, in 2014, the unemployment rate for bachelor’s degree holders aged 25 to 34 was a little under 4%, whereas over 12% of high school graduates in that age group were unemployed.
As a result, people without a college diploma are three times more likely to be poor. According to the Pew Research Center, only 6% of bachelor’s degree holders live in poverty, whereas an alarming 22% of persons without a college diploma live in poverty. A bachelor’s degree will help you achieve financial stability and security in the future.
6. Networking Opportunities
Building and maintaining a professional network is essential in today’s job environment. Specific components of earning a degree, such as internships and volunteer work, are intended to help you meet people who can assist you in planning your future.
Using the different job fairs and career development opportunities accessible to college students is another excellent way to put that degree to use.
When it comes time to finish their degree and enter the workforce, degree holders can expect support from their mentors and professors that they won’t find anywhere else.
7. A Pathway to Advancement
Have you considered becoming a physical therapist, a head librarian, or a nurse anesthetist? These prominent positions typically demand a bachelor’s degree as a prerequisite before moving on to a more advanced degree.
A bachelor’s degree is also required before pursuing a Master’s or Ph.D. and the ever-popular MBA. So even if you’re not convinced, you’re cut out for the whole career path; having a bachelor’s degree now puts you in control if you decide to pursue it later.
8. Personal Growth and Improved Self-Esteem
You may be doubting the worth of a bachelor’s degree if you aren’t looking for the type of job that often comes with a four-year degree.
But it’s not just about the paper; many students have found the experience genuinely and personally satisfying. Moreover, you can polish your presenting abilities, meet with instructors and students who will eventually become part of your valuable career network, and develop skills like writing, time management, and teamwork.
You may be doubting the worth of a bachelor’s degree bachelor’s you aren’t looking for the type of job that often comes with a four-year degree.
But it’s not just about the paper; many students have found the experience genuinely and personally satisfying. Moreover, there are possibilities to polish your presenting abilities, meet with instructors and students who will eventually become part of your valuable career network, and develop skills like writing, time management, and teamwork.
Graduates of colleges are also more likely to participate in their communities. They are more likely to vote, volunteer, donate to charities, join community organizations, and participate in educational activities with their children than non-degree holders. As a result, bachelor’s degree graduates contribute to a stronger, more involved community as active citizens, providing chances for future generations.
9. Higher Job Satisfaction
Research shows that having a bachelor’s degree leads to greater long-term job satisfaction. However, the differences between degree and non-degree holders are stark:
- Eighty-six percent of college graduates consider their job a career or a stepping stone to their career, while only 57 percent of high school graduates say the same.
- Most bachelor’s degree holders—60 percent—say they are delighted and their job is more than just a paycheck. However, only 38 percent of degree holders report the same level of satisfaction.
- Forty-two percent of high school graduates say their job is “just to get them by,” compared to 14 percent of bachelor’s degree holders.
Bachelor’s degree holders also enjoy more on-the-job perks that contribute to a sense of career satisfaction. For example, in 2015, 52 percent of full-time workers with a degree were offered retirement benefits, compared to only 43 percent of individuals without a degree.
10. Positive Return on Investment
The cost of a degree may be daunting, especially with many students on the news sharing student loan woes and not feeling like the job market is friendly to their specific degree. However, while no one can argue that some degrees aren’t that easy to employ, many college grads find the ROI of a bachelor’s degree positive.
Young adults express that their degrees are a good value, with 72 percent believing their degree has paid off and an additional 17 percent considering it will very soon. This trend stays steady among those who borrowed for school, as well. Plus, many programs are available to help pay for higher education; scholarships, grants and tuition reimbursement programs are all designed to help students avoid debt.
Using a Bachelor’s Degree to Your Advantage
Whether you are looking for more upward mobility in your career, a new opportunity to learn and grow professionally, or a better life for your family through a higher annual salary, there are many reasons for exploring a bachelor’s degree program.
In today’s market, the cost of not having a college degree is rising, as non-graduates face a lack of job options and increased economic instability.
While earning a bachelor’s degree is a big commitment, the rewards are plentiful and within reach. A bachelor’s degree can provide a brighter economic future, more career possibilities, and a greater sense of personal fulfillment.