Benefits of a College Degree


According to one report, college grads are linked to higher earning potential and healthier lifestyles.

By Chris Kyle

"Education Pays 2010."

That's the title of a new report by The College Board that emphasizes the financial benefits of earning a college degree.

In 2008, four-year college graduates earned nearly $22,000 more yearly than those with just a high school diploma, according to the report. That's an average annual salary of $55,700 for college grads as compared to $33,800 for high school grads.

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According to the report, college graduates also had a far lower unemployment rate during the current recession: 5.1 percent lower than people with only a high school diploma.

"If it wasn't clear before, it should be abundantly clear now that a college graduate is far more competitive in today's workplace," said College Board President Gaston Caperton.

The increased earnings cut across gender and ethnic groups.

Check out these average salaries for business graduates:*

Finance: $91,500
Information Technology: $79,300
Accounting: $77,500
Business: $70,600
Human Resources: $61,900

Here's a quick rundown of average salaries in more common fields for college grads:*

Nursing: $68,200
Multimedia & Web Design: $61,200
Health Care Administration: $60,800
Medical Technology: $59,300
Criminal Justice: $58,000
Graphic Design: $56,800
Paralegal Studies: $51,300
Culinary Arts: $50,600

But the benefits of a college degree could extend beyond just salary numbers. Adults with a college degree are healthier, more active citizens who read to their children more often than those without a college degree, according to the report.

The College Board's report also found:

  • College graduates ages 25 to 44 are 14 percent less likely to be obese than high school grads.
  • Adults ages 25 to 34 with a college degree are nearly twice as likely to exercise vigorously.
  • Smoking among those with a bachelor's degree is 9 percent. High school grads: 27 percent.
  • 68 percent of college-educated parents read to their kids daily in 2007 - over 20 percent more than high school grads.
  • The percentage of people with college degrees who donate their time to community organizations is higher than other groups.

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*Unless otherwise noted, all salary information comes from Payscale's 2010-2011 college salary report and reflects mid-career earnings for those with a bachelor's degree and no higher.

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