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The Benefits of a College Education

Posted: May 30, 2018 — by Dr. Dustin Swanger

On Thursday, May 24, 2018, Fulton-Montgomery Community College held its commencement ceremony at Proctor’s Theatre in Schenectady. It was truly a wonderful ceremony celebrating the achievements of 428 graduates (approximately 240 participated in the actual ceremony) witnessed by close to 2,000 family members, friends, and others in the beautiful theatre.

As I was preparing my remarks for the evening, I reflected on all of the benefits of attaining a college education; there are many. Of course the first benefit that usually comes to mind is the earning potential of college graduates. Graduates who hold an Associate’s Degree earn nearly 25% more money than those who hold a high school diploma. Further, those graduates who hold a Bachelor’s Degree earn nearly 66% more than those with a high school diploma; and, the rates get higher with Masters and Doctorate Degrees as well.

However, there is more to it than earnings. College graduates tend to have more job opportunities throughout their lives. There are many jobs that require a degree. Obviously some jobs require a specific degree to do the job. Yet, sometimes the type of degree earned may be less important than actually achieving a degree. A completed degree demonstrates to employers that the candidate has a higher level of learning; and, that they were persistent and completed an academic degree.

College graduates tend to have better employment benefits and a higher rate of job satisfaction. Those jobs that require a college degree tend to have higher level responsibilities which lead to higher pay and better benefits. It is worth noting that people tend to be more satisfied with their jobs as well. Those who are required to solve problems, create new products or processes, manage employees or other tasks that employ critical thinking tend to be more satisfied. These positions often require a college degree.

There are societal benefits to earning a college degree as well. College graduates tend to be healthier. Those who hold a degree tend to understand more about their health and, because they earn more, tend to eat better, join gyms, and participate in athletic activities. Their children tend to do better as well. Because parents who hold college degrees value education, they often read to their children and encourage them to excel in school. Therefore, their children tend to read, study more, participate in school activities and prepare themselves for college.

College graduates tend to get involved in their communities. These folks tend to have a higher level understanding of the issues and want to get involved in developing real solutions. They are better at gathering and analyzing data about the problems and at developing potential solutions with a team in an effort to help improve the community.

Lastly, attending college introduces people from other backgrounds and diverse populations. Those who have graduated from college often have a broader view of the world. They understand how being inclusive can bring better ideas and culture to a region. They have often met people from around the world while in college and made friends with those from other cultures. That understanding may help lead to peace around the globe.

A college education is not just a vocational training program. It better prepares people to live in, work in, and contribute to a better world.

Dr. Swanger is President of FM.


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