How To Determine If College Can Help You and Improve Your Life

College is not for everyone. The question for you is whether college can help you have a better life.   Successful billionaires who dropped out of college are a popular topic these days. But these are less than a dozen people out of the tens of millions of us mere mortals trying to figure out how to create a fulfilling life for ourselves – what I call in Your Future is Calling, doing what fits who you are.  The odds are overwhelming that learning and earning a degree will improve your chances of having a better life.

Let’s look at scientific research for answers that can help you improve your life.       Buzz Today Source:  American Economic Review:  …estimate the returns to schooling by contrasting the wage rates of identical twins with different schooling levels.  The research takes monozygotic twins (from the same egg) which means that the twins are genetically identical and have similar family backgrounds.  What the researchers found was that an additional year of schooling increases wages by 12-16%.

The challenge you face is to determine the best course of action for yourself, not what has worked for someone else, including the billionaires cited above.  One way for you to think about this is to ask yourself if you are likely to become a  billionaire by not going to college.  Here I am not talking about winning the lottery.  Winning the lottery is a chance outcome not a plan.

On the other hand, you can make the odds of success work in your favor.  Here I am sharing three pieces of research that show how, on average, learning substantially improves your earning power.

Improve Your Life Item #1   The Twins research cited in BUZZ Today shows that for each year of schooling wages are increased 12-16%.  This is a truly amazing opportunity and is highly consistent with the data we see in Item #2 below.

Improve Your Life Item #2  For the American population as a whole, holders of bachelor’s degrees make 1.97 times the wages of a high school graduate.  This spread has actually grown over the past forty years.  The ratio was 1.44 in 1978.  What this means, is that a college degree has become even more important not less than important over the years.  You can see this data for yourself on page 13 of my book Your Future is Calling.   What you will also see is that the multiplier stays through recessions as well as good times.  Note also that the 1.97 for a four year bachelor degree is very consistent with the twins research in Improve Your Life Item #1 above.

Improve Your Life Item #3   The California Community System, with 112 campuses, are collecting data about the financial success of their graduates.  Details for 266 degrees and certificates are listed in tables at SalarySurfer.  The important information in this data is that it shows what the graduating students were earning 2 years before their schooling, then the wages of these same graduates earned 2 years and 5 years after graduation. As an example, graduates with a two year paramedic degree the data is:
2 years before:   $19,510
2 years after       $52,774
5 years after       $64,298
Under any scenario, these results represent a significant improvement in the lives of these graduates.

Some are able to improve their lives without formal education but for the vast majority of Americans, an education vastly increases the chances for an improved life.  It is up to you to determine which of the hundreds of careers best fits who you are.

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