At last, 15 minutes of quiet time after a busy day! The computer is on, the textbook is open, there is ice cream in the freezer, and the TV is playing softly in the next room — only two discussions, three chapters and a quiz to worry about before the day is officially done! So why am I doing this? It would be so easy to just slam the book closed, turn off the computer and sit in front of the TV eating ice cream.

But something is driving you to finish your degree. Believe me, you are not alone in wondering why you are working so hard to finish your education. If you need a single measurable reason, I would like to draw your attention to a 2014 Urban Institute article by Sandy Baum entitled “Higher Education Earnings Premium.”

“Overall, people with a college education do better in the labor market than people with no education beyond high school,” Baum says in the very first paragraph of the article. “Higher levels of education correspond, on average, to higher levels of employment and higher wage.”

The key phrase in this opening paragraph is “on average;” not everyone will earn high wages, but on average, obtaining a higher degree will help graduates reach a higher level of income, gain more personal satisfaction, find employment and advance faster.

Shena Frazier
Shena Frazier, program coordinator, Columbia College-Kings Bay
CSS1 (SS) Richard Frazier and CSS3 (SS) Alban Medina helped decorate our Columbia College Christmas Tree at NSB Kings Bay.

“Skeptics of the value of a college education often argue erroneously that the payoff is declining. For those with bachelor’s degrees or higher — and particularly for those with advanced degrees — the earnings premium has increased markedly over time,” Baum says.

Finally, Baum says that while we often focus on labor market returns, not all benefits from higher education are monetary. College graduates are healthier and more engaged citizens. Earning the degree often means less family and leisure time, but remember, the statistics are on your side. So, answer the discussion questions, read the chapters, take the quiz and then eat the ice cream.