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How Can Going Back to School to Earn Your Bachelor’s Degree Increase Your Earning Potential?

Going back to college to earn a bachelor’s degree requires a substantial investment in both time and money. However, data shows that earning a bachelor’s degree can also increase graduates’ salaries, as well as having many other benefits on their lives and livelihoods. In fact, the median weekly earnings for bachelor’s degree recipients in 2016 was $1,156, while those with only a high school diploma brought home $692 weekly. Additionally, those with some college experience but no degree also earned approximately $400 less than the median amount of bachelor’s recipients.

At Tulane School of Professional Advancement, our degree programs offer flexible, in-person and online learning environments that are catered to working adults and professional industries. We offer 26 distinct undergraduate degree programs, including eight bachelor’s programs in thriving industries ranging from homeland security studies to digital design to health and wellness. These degree programs are taught by professors who are industry leaders in their respective fields, helping to further prepare students for professional placement upon graduation.

Increase Your Long-term Financial Stability

While the median salary can increase for bachelor recipients, statistics also show a greater long-term earning potential. For example, bachelor’s degree holders cumulatively earn $1.19 million on average over the course of their careers, which is twice the amount earned by the average high school graduate. The unemployment rate also dropped by 2.5 percentage points for bachelor’s degree recipients compared to high school graduates. Additionally, there’s a noticeable difference between bachelor’s degree holders and those with a high school diploma in relation to poverty levels.

Individuals Who Lived at or Below the Poverty Line:

  • High school diploma only recipients—13 percent
  • Bachelor’s degree recipients—4 percent

A Smart Decision, No Matter Your Gender

Increased weekly earning potential, lowered unemployment rate, enhanced long-term wealth accumulation—the benefits are clear, but how does that stack up for men vs. women? 2016 data from the United States Department of Labor found that full-time female workers with a bachelor’s degree earned more on average each week than workers with only a high school education or GED equivalent. For men with bachelor’s degrees, the difference in median weekly salary compared to high school earners jumps even higher.

Average Weekly Pay Increase for Bachelor’s Degree Earners:

  • Full-time female workers—earned $410 more than those with only a high school education or GED equivalent
  • Full-time male workers—earned $593 more than those with only a high school education or GED equivalent

Improve Job Satisfaction and Upward Mobility

Beyond the numbers, bachelor’s degree recipients also report more satisfaction with their jobs, and 83 percent of degree holders feel that they have already seen a return on their investment in education. In terms of upward mobility, 86 percent of college graduates age 25-32 feel they are in a career or career-track job, while 42 percent of high school diploma recipients report that their job is just a way “to get them by.” Additionally, college graduates report a different level of job satisfaction when compared to high school diploma recipients.

Job Satisfaction:

  • College graduates in their mid-20s or early 30s—53 percent reported feeling “very satisfied” at work
  • High school diploma recipient or less—only 37 percent reported feeling satisfied

Benefits Beyond the Bottom Line

In addition to increased financial stability, earning a bachelor’s degree has been found to improve health and civic engagement, particularly in terms of voter registration. In fact, college graduates have been found to live at least five years longer, on average, than individuals who have not yet finished high school. A few specific factors, including weekly exercise and employer-provided health insurance, could help contribute to these findings.

Exercise and Health Coverage:

  • Bachelor’s degree recipients—27 percent increase in reported weekly exercise for adults aged 45-54 vs. high school graduates of the same age
  • Bachelor’s degree recipients—47 percent increase in employer-provided health insurance compared to high school diploma recipients

If you’re ready to enhance your career and earning potential, request more information from Tulane School of Professional Advancement to find a bachelor’s degree program that builds on your skills and works with your schedule.