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With the escalating cost of higher education, many people have begun to question the value of pursuing a college degree. The struggle to earn a living and attain valuable knowledge to increase future earning potential is a dilemma for many folks. However, research has revealed that the rate of return on the investment to earn a university degree for both the individual and society over the long run is over 118% on average.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the holder of a university degree can earn over one million dollars in extra income over the course of their lifetime. One million dollars is a significant sum of money considering the cost involved in investing in a university degree ( On average US $35,196). Knowing that a person who holds a university degree may earn one million dollars more in their lifetime supports the concept that higher education is a worthwhile investment. There are many other verifiable reasons to support going to college to earn a university degree, such as:

Financial value of earning a higher education university degree: A breakdown of the U.S. Census Bureau results reveals that over the working life of an adult, high school graduates earn an average of $1.2 million; associate's degree holders earn approximately $1.6 million; and those who hold a bachelor's degree earn about $2.1 million. When you consider the large differences in earning between these categories, it makes the value of a college education and university degree quite apparent. Alternatively, the U.S. Department of Education has determined that a full-time student at a 4-year public university pays an average of $8,655 for tuition, room and board and a full-time student at a public 2-year university pays the average of $1,359 per year for tuition. Although higher education can be costly, it dramatically increases an individual's earning capacity.

Social value of earning a higher education university degree: In their 1992 report, Elchanan Cohn and Terry Geske found that "college graduates appear to have a more optimistic view of their past and future personal progress." The improved self-esteem of people holding a university degree makes them more viable candidates for many positions in the job market along with the confidence to pursue those jobs.

Public value of earning a higher education university degree: The Institute for Higher Education Policy has found that public benefits of attending college are greater productivity in the workplace, more workforce flexibility, increased tax benefits and less need to rely on governmental financial support. People who hold a university degree revel in being self-sufficient because of their ability to earn an adequate living.

Personal value of earning a higher education university degree: Furthermore, the Institute for Higher Education Policy reports that college graduates have higher levels of savings, more hobbies, increased professional mobility, a better quality of life for their children and even make better decisions as consumers. The skills learned while acquiring a university degree are also applied in a beneficial manner to everyday living.

Health value of earning a higher education university degree: The Cohn and Geske study in 1992 revealed that "parental schooling levels are positively correlated with the health status of their children" and "increased schooling are correlated with lower mortality for given age brackets". Most people who hold a university degree pursue jobs they derive pleasure from which decreases stress and such jobs often offer better health insurance plans to their employees, resulting in improved overall health.

So what is the potential for people who pursue a university degree but do not actually earn it? A study done by Boesel and Fredland in 1999 found that those who do not complete their degree earn less than, or the same amount as, 2-year college students. Since 600,000 students leave 4-year colleges every year without graduating, it may be wise in certain circumstances to earn a 2-year degree before pursuing a 4-year degree. Earning a 2-year degree first can maximize personal earning potential without accruing educational debt for a 4-year program that may not be completed.

The value of deciding to earn a university degree is indisputable. For busy people seeking flexibility, earning a university degree is easier to attain with the convenience of online education. Almost any curriculum can be studied through online courses and a valid degree awarded. According to Making the Grade: Online Education in the United States, 2006, nearly 3.2 million students took at least one course online during the 2005 fall semester, which represented a substantial increase over the 2.3 million reported the year before. The same report states that most Chief Academic Officers believe that the quality of online instruction is actually equal to or better than traditional learning face-to-face. The knowledge and skills gains by taking an online course are equivalent to going to the trouble and inconvenience of attending classes in a traditional setting.

The College Board study Education Pays 2006 found that women between the ages of 25 and 34 who held bachelor's degrees earned 70 percent more than those with high school diplomas and men in that category earned 63 percent more. This means that the average earnings premium for holding a university degree is $14,000. After carefully reviewing the facts, there are a myriad of great reasons to study for and earn a university degree. One of the most practical reasons to get a college degree is the increased earnings degree holders enjoy.

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