Today, more adults than ever are realizing the benefits of going back to school. The National Center for Education Statistics predicts that the percentage of students in higher education who are over 25 will rise by 8 percent by 2026. In many cases, these students will be motivated by the increasing wage gap between those with college degrees and those with a high school diploma.
Benefits by the Numbers
According to The Hamilton Project, the average bachelor's degree holder earns approximately $1.19 million over the course of their career, more than double the $580,000 in lifetime earnings for those with a high school degree. Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that unemployment rates for college degree holders are similarly about half, 2.7 percent, of what they are for those without a degree. BLS also estimates that median weekly earnings increase progressively with your level of education. The following summarizes 2017 median weekly earnings:
- High school diploma: $712
- Some college, no degree: $774
- Bachelor's degree holders: $1,173
- Master's degree holders: $1,401
Other Reasons to Go Back to School
Of course, it's not all about money. Many people without a degree may run into a wall in their chosen field where a degree is a required qualification for advancement. Obtaining a formal education can help these people advance to more challenging and fulfilling work. In fact, a survey from Pew Research Center found that 9 in 10 adult graduates said their education has paid off for them or they expect it to in the future.