Working-class students
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Your college degree is more than a passport into the working world.

Results of the 2018 General Social Survey (GSS) in the US suggests that those with a college degree are not only happier and healthier, but enjoy a higher quality of life than those with a high school education or less, writes Michael T. Nietzel for Forbes.

On its website, the GSS notes that it provides politicians, policymakers and scholars “with a clear and unbiased perspective on what Americans think and feel about such issues as national spendi​ng priorities, crime and punishment, intergroup relations, and confidence in institutions”.

It’s considered to be among the most influential studies in the social sciences.

GSS’ survey includes hundreds of questions that tap individuals’ feelings about their personal lives and well-being, while responses are broken out by the highest level of education completed (less than high school; high school; and college, which included a two-year degree or higher).

The survey’s findings are consistent with the recent finding that a college degree conveys a 75 percent wage premium (approximately US$33,000 per year) compared to a high-school diploma, notes Nietzel. He adds that this might be associated with the fact that adults with a high school diploma or less in the labour force are “twice as likely to be unemployed or underemployed as those with a B.A. or more”.

“They could be due to the personal attributes and family advantages that enable [the] successful completion of more education. They may signal cumulative preferences and privileges typically granted to the more highly educated. Most likely, they reflect the combined effects of these and other influences,” notes Nietzel.

GSS’ findings echo similar studies that have been done in the past which point towards the benefits of earning a degree.

Using US Census data, Business Insider reported that college graduates earn more than those without a degree, adding that “in every US state, earnings for college graduates exceed the earnings for those with less than a bachelor’s degree”.

Meanwhile, Times Higher Education said a Hefce analysis found that “UK graduates cope better with divorce, ill-health and unemployment than non-graduates”, adding that they “have a greater sense of personal well-being and life satisfaction than those without a higher education qualification”.

These reports suggest that pursuing one’s higher education is a worthwhile investment; a degree acts as more than just a stepping stone into the workforce or a tool for boosting your income – it can also positively affect your overall well-being.

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