Dr. Hank Kelly
Until the end of World War II, education was primarily reserved for the elite. After World War II, the masses started attending college—enrollment has grown from 1.7 million to 20.5 million—and it is available to almost everyone in America. Higher education benefits an individual personally and professionally, but it also benefits society.
Education benefits an individual personally because it prepares him or her for a career, a career that will earn an average of one million dollars more than with only a high school diploma (see Work-Life Earnings graph). Additionally, college graduates have increased job security (50 percent lower unemployment than those without a college degree), greater personal and professional mobility, improved quality of life for their children, better consumer decision making, and more hobbies and leisure activities. Educational attainment has also been shown to be related with analytical thinking and problem solving capability, self confidence or self esteem, a sense of identity, and satisfaction with life.
Education helps people perform their job better in both paid and volunteer jobs. Some of the things college students learn that employers value include writing and speaking skills, interpersonal capabilities, ability to work in teams, leadership and management skills, cross-cultural experience, and job-specific knowledge leading to greater workplace productivity. The latter ability is especially important in an economy that depends increasingly more on technological and intellectual skills.
A case can be made that higher education is also an economic and social good. “No modern country has become prosperous without a strong higher education system,” said Dr. Mamphela Ramphele, former Managing Director of the World Bank. Thomas Jefferson considered knowledge necessary for the “preservation of freedom and happiness” and called the benefits of higher education “eternal.” Graduates of higher education have higher voting rates, greater civic and community involvement, more acceptance of different races and cultures, better health habits, and read more to their children.
The benefits of college directly affect the graduate, but they also have an eternal impact on our economy and society. College students can be recent high school graduates (some are still in high school) or they can be part of the increasing ranks of working adults that are completing a degree. It’s not too late to earn your degree.
Here are some inspiring quotes about the importance of education:
- “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” (Nelson Mandela)
- “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” (Benjamin Franklin)
- “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” (William Butler Yeats)
- “Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)
- “Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one." (Malcolm Forbes)
- “Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.” (Gilbert Chesterton)