WSU is advancing Washington industries …
WSU teams with aviation to develop sustainable aviation biofuels …
WSU partners to develop bioproducts that reduce dependence on petroleum imports …
WSU works with state commodity commissions to conduct needed agricultural research …
WSU developed the technology used for wood-plastic composites used for buildings …
WSU researchers work to improve dairy productivity and reduce disease …
WSU research has made Washington one of the world’s most productive wheat-growing regions …

Cougar Chat, The state of higher education in Washington State

The State of Higher Education in Washington State – benefits of higher education


This is the second in a series exploring the state of higher education in Washington State.  This entry focuses on how a college degree pays off financially and intangibly for the graduate – and for society at large. The importance of a college education in light of today’s economic realities and the needs for society are critical considerations for state policy and law makers. Here are some of the top benefits of a college education as supported by publicly available data:

The number of employment opportunities is far greater for people with college degrees. Earning a college degree increases the chances of getting a job by nearly 50%. The higher the degree level, the less likely one is to be unemployed. This fact is evident by the recent Great Recession and the workers who bore the brunt of the job losses (see below).

Source: The College Advantage: Weathering the Economic Storm, Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, August 2012

Career Options
A college degree can help qualify graduates to work in fields that are in demand. More jobs than ever are now requiring specialized training and college degrees. The more education one earns, the more qualified, and subsequently, the more choices a graduate will have.  By 2018, about two-thirds of all employment will require some college education or more (see data below)

  • From 1973 to 2008, jobs in the U.S. economy requiring postsecondary education grew from 28% to 59%
  • Postsecondary jobs will grow from 59% to 63% from 2008 to 2018. 33% will require a bachelor’s degree or more.
  • By 2018, 70% of the jobs in the state of Washington will require some postsecondary education — the second highest percentage nationally. 36% will require a bachelor’s degree or more.
Source: Help Wanted: Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements Through 2018, Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, August 2012

Income Potential
With a college degree, graduates will most likely earn more money than without one, which in turn, enables an improved lifestyle and a host of societal benefits. Generally, the higher the degree level, the higher projected income will be. For example, someone with a bachelor degree will likely earn twice as much as someone with only a high school diploma (see below for details).

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey

Jobs for college graduates typically offer better benefits, including health insurance and retirement plans, than jobs just requiring a high school diploma.

A college education generally makes you a rounded person. It shapes communication skills, expands the knowledge base, and exposes students and graduates to a world of learning. College graduates are generally more confident, emotionally, and financially secure and arguably have a deeper understanding of human nature, which has immense societal benefits.

Pursuing a higher education provides the chance to make connections with people who share  similar interests or are further along in a career path. Fellow students and professors can serve as great connections following graduation. These connections can be as important in a professional’s life as the actual degree earned, opening up new opportunities.

Quality of Life
College graduates tend to live healthier lives. Working in a field one is passionate about, combined with the ability to earn a higher income and receive benefits, can provide a better quality of life for individuals while also supplying societal benefits (see below).

Source: Increasing College Attainment in the United States, The National Center for Higher Education Management Systems

Secure Future
A college degree provides the best possible chance to succeed in finding and keeping a job that reflects one’s interest. This makes it possible to successfully plan for the future.

Source: Help Wanted: Projection of Jobs and Education Requirements Through 2018, Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, August 2012

Earning a degree gives one an opportunity to turn  passions and interests into a way to earn a living. It can transform a basic need to work from a financial standpoint into a more fulfilling desire to work in a chosen field. Also, choosing a certain degree program does not necessarily limit a graduate to one type of career – a higher education in general can lead to opportunities in different fields.

Timeless Value
Education is something that cannot be taken away from a graduate. No matter what happens in life and career, a college degree is an achievement of value and a demonstration of commitment.


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