Article authored by Brent Pickett, dean of UW at Casper
CASPER, Wyo. — As the dean of the University of Wyoming at Casper, I sometimes get asked if a college degree is still worth it. The evidence is clear: it is. When talking about the benefits of a bachelor’s degree, people usually focus on just the increased pay. It is true that the average four year degree recipient makes more: in 2018, among those working full time, the median pay for bachelor’s degree holders was almost $25,000 more than those with only a high school diploma. Yet there are so many other economic advantages. Persons with a four year degree are half as likely to be unemployed; they are also less likely to be laid off during a recession. They are more likely to have employer-provided health insurance and to be offered and participate in an employer-provided retirement plan.
Beyond that, the non-economic benefits are also huge. Life expectancy for persons with a college degree is about a decade greater than for those with only a high school diploma. Relatedly, those with degrees are more likely to exercise. They also engage in civic voluntarism and vote at much higher rates, and are much less likely to end up divorced or in prison. The benefits even extend to the next generation. One of the best predictors of a child’s reading level in the 3rd grade is her or his mother’s educational attainment. Children of parents who went to college go to libraries more often and are read more to at home.
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All the above shows why higher education is such a useful public investment too. Those with degrees, on average, are much less likely to be on public assistance. They often live longer and healthier lives. Their children often do better in school and graduate at higher rates.
While the earlier one goes to college, the longer one can reap the benefits of an education, it’s never too late to earn a degree. I was a first generation college student: my father had dropped out of college; my mother never went. After I graduated, my father, at the age of 52, started college again and went on to earn a master’s degree. My mother also went to college and earned an associate’s. I loved talking with her about homework and how to calm herself in speech class. For my father, his degrees opened new and exciting career prospects.
At UW-Casper, we work with traditional and non-traditional students every day. We have a wide variety of degree programs available, plus scholarship opportunities available solely to students at our campus. For more information, please call (307) 268-2713, or go to https://www.uwyo.edu/uwcasper.