BLOG: All Things Higher Ed

12 reasons to earn a bachelor's degree after high school

As a proud high school graduate (or soon-to-be graduate), you face an exciting, but uncertain future. The possibilities seem endless, so it's perfectly understandable if you feel overwhelmed. While there's no one path to the good life after high school, one credential nearly always has a positive impact on individuals, families, and entire communities: a bachelor's degree.

Invest in your future career and self with a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University. 

Why is a bachelor's degree important?

The bachelor's degree has long been a stepping stone to a quality life. It improves your odds of finding a job you love in an industry that pays livable wages. It can also influence your personal confidence and even your relationships. At the societal level, higher education is correlated with better health, community engagement, and economic mobility.

Benefits of a bachelor's degree

No two students will have the exact same reasons for pursuing a bachelor's degree. Many do so simply because they've been exposed to this academic expectation since they were children. This approach might get them enrolled, but it's not necessarily prudent in the long term. Instead, it's important to know why you want a degree and how it will benefit you over time.

In addition to building immediate anticipation, this will provide a powerful reminder later on if life's challenges have you second-guessing your academic commitments. There are many benefits worth keeping in mind, but the following are some of the most compelling:

1. Pursue your passion

Imagine spending all day, every day immersing yourself in a passion project. There's nothing quite as energizing or fulfilling as pursuing what you truly love. Few opportunities allow you to embrace your personal passions quite like college, where your specific interests can be built into your coursework, your extracurricular pursuits, and even internships or volunteer projects. Enroll in the right program, and you can continue to pursue that passion (in the form of your dream job) long after you graduate.

2. Increased marketability

It's no secret that employers overwhelmingly prefer to hire college graduates. As such, a bachelor's degree is the most reliable path to becoming marketable as a prospective employee. Equipped with this key credential, it becomes a lot easier to create a compelling resume.

This perception of marketability plays out in the latest research. A noteworthy report from the Association of American Colleges and Universities reveals that the vast majority of employers (across all sectors) show confidence in higher education. What's more, 87 percent believe that a college degree is worth the required investment of time and money. These perceptions indicate that most employers remain more receptive to resumes with college degrees than those without.

3. More career opportunities

If you're like many students, you'll choose your college program based on your desired career path. This can be an excellent approach, but you'll also discover a built-in fail-safe in the event that you choose to take a different direction with your career: a bachelor's degree equips you to seek professional opportunities in many areas.

Unexpected post-college career trajectories are more common than you might think. A survey conducted by Next Gen Personal Finance (NGPF) reveals that 46 percent of college graduates work in their field of study. Still, NGPF points out that, no matter their occupation, those with their bachelor's degree are more likely to be employed at any given time when compared to their counterparts with high school diplomas or associate degrees.

4. Make more money

There's no denying the financial benefits of earning a bachelor's degree. Extensive research indicates that college graduates earn far more over their lifetime than those with high school diplomas only or even associate degrees. For example, a Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (CEW) report highlights average lifetime earnings of $2.8 million for adults with bachelor's degrees. This is an astounding $1.2 million more than the average adult with a high school diploma earns.

5. Confidence boost

Confidence is like a muscle: some people are naturally gifted, but most develop it through hard work. College provides a wonderful series of opportunities to build confidence. Graduation provides the biggest boost, but smaller gains can be found throughout your enrollment. Every time you receive positive feedback from instructors or master a new skill, you'll experience a significant increase in confidence — a powerful feeling you'll come to crave.

6. Networking opportunities

Networking is critical to success in today's competitive workforce, where there's at least some truth to the cliche "it's not what you know, but who you know." College provides a whole host of networking opportunities, both while you're enrolled and far into the future. Simply being surrounded by a community of highly motivated, like-minded individuals can be valuable. Beyond this, however, college also introduces you to valuable contacts through internships and dedicated networking events.

7. Acquire mentors

From advisors to instructors and even coaches or resident assistants, college students enjoy many opportunities to build strong relationships with inspiring and highly knowledgeable individuals. Whether these relationships are formal or casual, they make a huge difference in the lives of both mentors and their mentees.

Experts from the American Psychological Association (APA) believe that mentees perform better both while enrolled and after they graduate. Meanwhile, mentors gain great satisfaction and personal meaning from supporting others. As a college student, you can take on both roles, thereby gaining fresh perspectives and wonderful inspiration.

8. Improve interpersonal skills

Sometimes referred to as people skills or social intelligence, interpersonal skills are a huge priority among today's employers. Data from the Pew Research Center suggests that, despite the current dominance of technological solutions, employers still prioritize social skills above analytic or even managerial skills (although of course, all remain important). All three can be gained with a bachelor's degree, where liberal arts coursework forces students to hone their written and verbal communication skills.

An analysis published in the Social Innovations Journal refers to college as a "powerful incubator of social and emotional development." Key skills cited in this research include self-perception and empathy. These are often gained simply by being exposed to a wide range of viewpoints. College accomplishes this by encouraging students to study a variety of subjects and learn from many types of people.

9. Challenge yourself

Some talented students coast through high school without ever discovering the joy of rigorous, yet rewarding academic pursuits. This becomes far more available in college, where every student — no matter how cognitively gifted — will encounter considerable challenges at some point. Yes, these can cause minor frustration in the short-term, but the personal gains from this effort are considerable. Ultimately, the achievable challenges presented by college coursework make life richer and more exciting. You'll continue to seek out similar challenges — and rise to the occasion — long after you become a college graduate.

10. Develop unique skills

We've already touched on a few of the essential skills you'll gain as a college student, such as empathy and strong communication skills. Other skills may not immediately seem important but could pay off in unexpected ways later on. From music composition to video production, every skill you gain will become vital to who you are as a person and as a professional.

Many of today's most inspirational figures espouse the value of a well-rounded college education and the myriad of skills this provides. Tim Cook, for example, cites the sheer variety of classes he took in college as the key to his success as a business leader. Hence, his enduring belief "that the most important things in life stand at the intersection of technology and the liberal arts."

11. Achieve your personal goals

While many of the long-term benefits highlighted above are compelling, some of the immediate benefits of a bachelor's degree are also worth considering. Goal-setting, in particular, should appeal to anyone who thrives in a structured environment.

This is exactly what college provides: an excellent opportunity to set and ultimately achieve meaningful goals. For many students, the main goal is simple, yet highly motivating: earn a degree. Nothing compares to the feeling of pride that accompanies this accomplishment. Buoyed by the knowledge that you can achieve such an ambitious goal, you'll be ready to continue pursuing big endeavors as you move into graduate school or a successful career.

Short-term goals can also be highly gratifying when achieved. Many students set goals at the beginning of each semester and feel incredibly accomplished when they accomplish them. Even completing a daily checklist can provide a satisfying sense of momentum while also establishing a goal-oriented approach that will prove useful in years and decades to come.

12. Prepare for advanced degree programs

Earning a bachelor's degree is a key step toward enrolling in an esteemed master's program. Graduate-level studies can build on many of the opportunities highlighted above, further improving your long-term prospects for employment, pay, and job satisfaction. Lifetime earnings for professionals with their master's degrees average $3.2 million — and further research suggests that job satisfaction improves considerably upon obtaining a graduate-level education.

How do you know if college is right for you?

Chances are you’re a great candidate for a bachelor's degree program. If you're like most potential students, you'll quickly find that colleges provide a wealth of opportunities that would be difficult to obtain elsewhere.

Of course, it never hurts to get extra insight. If you'd like to learn more about compelling undergraduate degree opportunities, check out CMU's program finder page. For even more information, contact us today.

Blog: All Things Higher Ed posted | Last Modified: | Categories: University Communications
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