The evidence clearly shows that completing a college degree is still an excellent decision for most people. Here’s a fairly recent summary by the Pew Research Center for why college is still worth completing. In a nutshell the research indicates that:
- An individual with a bachelor’s degree typically makes around $15,000 more per year than an individual that simply graduated from high school.
- Young adults who graduate from college are less likely to be living in their parent’s home than those who do not graduate from college.
- College grads are more satisfied with their jobs.
- Having a college education is even more important today for keeping one out of poverty than it has been in the past.
- The majority of college graduates say that attending college was worth it.
I want to also respond to an all too common argument I hear these days.
Sometimes people will mention a wealthy or influential person who didn’t graduate from college and use the example as proof that you don’t need to go to college to be successful. Steve Jobs didn’t graduate nor did Bill Gates, for example. The part they forget to highlight is that both of these people actually started college and were in college when they got the inspiration to become entrepreneurs. These men are rare outliers, but even then, they were catapulted onto successful paths due to experiences they had in college. Hence even for these men, going to college was critical to their success.
A study by Jonathan Wai and Heiner Rindermann, supports this point. The authors found that among the nearly 12,000 top US leaders they examined, 94% attended college.
Yes, you can make a difference without going to college. However, if you want to give yourself the greatest opportunity for achieving financial success and/or influencing society, getting a college degree is the smart way to start.