Earning a college degree in the United States has never cost more than it does right now. Even if you adjust for inflation, today’s college students are paying way more than their parents did for tuition, room and board, which can leave many teenagers and 20-somethings wondering if the courses they’ve already taken toward their college degree were a waste of time and money. While it’s true that a bachelor’s degree is more expensive than it used to be, the benefits of finishing your undergraduate schooling still outweigh the perceived benefits of foregoing that pricey rite of passage. From making more money to enjoying greater job stability, here are nine reasons why you should hunker down and finish your undergraduate degree.
You’ll Make More Money
The old saying, “You have to spend money to make money” is remarkably true when it comes to college degrees. While the cost of an undergraduate education has risen sharply in the past 15 years, the payoff is still very, very real. In fact, according to a recent report, the pay gap that exists between those without a college degree and those with a college degree amounts to roughly $500,000 over a person’s lifetime.
You’ll Have Less Stress
Chronic stress can cause a myriad of health problems, including anxiety and heart disease. According to a 2006 study conducted by the psychology department at Carnegie Mellon University, people who hold a college degree have lower levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, than people with less education, which means that if you want a less stressful life you should finish your college degree.
You’ll Make Better Lifestyle Choices
College graduates exercise more, smoke less and in general, take better care of their health. While the reasons for this phenomenon aren’t entirely understood, it does appear that education, coupled with the skills required to see things through to their end make for people whose behavior benefits them more than people who don’t finish college.
You’re More Likely to Enjoy Your Job
Because your place of employment is where you’re likely to spend the bulk of your waking hours over the course of your adult lifetime, it seems essential that you like what you do, but sadly, not everyone can say that. College graduates, however, report a much higher level of job satisfaction than their peers with less education.
Your Job Will Be More Stable
If you like to know your paycheck is safe, then finishing your college degree should be one of your primary goals. Especially in a struggling economy when employers are more likely to cut positions, having a college degree provides a sort of recession-proof cushion. Because lower-level and lesser-skilled work is usually the first jobs to be cut, it’s almost always true that during a recession, the unemployment rate among college graduates is lower than it is among non-graduates.
You’ll Have More Options
It’s terrible to be stuck in a job or a career path, without options for advancement or change. Finishing your college degree not only provides you with the resources to advance within most careers, it also serves as the gateway to further education and graduate school should you choose to change your career path completely, or simply make your resume more impressive.
You’ll Experience Better Personal Development
At its core, getting an education should improve you as a person, and obtaining a college degree can do that for you. From the experience of overcoming challenges and following through on difficult assignments to expanding your world view about other cultures and viewpoints that are vastly different from your own, completing a college degree provides a wealth of opportunities for personal development that will aid you in every area of your life.
You’ll Have More Social Mobility
Whether or not you grew up poor, completing your college degree can aid you and your offspring in attaining greater social mobility. In America at least, one of the greatest predictors of someone’s ability to move out of poverty and into the middle class lies in simply getting a college education.
You’ll Have Better Benefits
Individuals with college degrees enjoy more and better benefits than their counterparts without a degree. From health care and retirement packages to paid vacation and paid sick days, the jobs that become available to you once you finish your bachelor’s degree tend to treat their employees as more valuable assets than jobs that hire less educated and lesser skilled workers.
Going to college really will change your life — especially if you complete your degree. From increased job satisfaction to enjoying better employee benefits, let these nine reasons convince you that the effort and money required are totally worth it.