22 May 2013

Is A Bachelor's Degree Worth It -- Key Arguments & Ideas - "Yes"

This first group's basic argument is that people can and should go to college and obtain their degrees, and by doing so people benefit by having more education. In addition, society benefits from having more educated people to the point where it should be a compelling interest of contemporary society and her institutions to ensure the populace has unfettered access to education.

We can break down the ideas, arguments, and figures further by group: social/societal, personal/familial, professional, and economic.


  • Graduates are more likely to be employed in jobs that provide stable health insurance and retirement benefits; they thus have access to more financial tools and access to higher-quality preventative healthcare to stay in good health [3]
  • As a result of these individuals living healthier lives, there is a reduction in the need for public social programmes (such as unemployment insurance, food stamps and welfare aid, and health programmes such as Medicare and Medicaid) [3]
  • College-educated people have a significantly lower incarceration rate; it is approximately one-fourth of that for people with no more than a high school diploma [3] 
  • College graduates are also more likely to be politically aware, as they have a higher rate of participation in elections and other engaging activities in the civic process [3]


  • Completing college provides a major accomplishment that people can take pride in and thus boost their self-image [3]
  • Graduates are more likely to exercise and less likely to smoke (if they did, they're more likely to successfully quit) or be obese [3]
  • Graduates' children are more likely to be healthier; they are more likely to be breastfed and are less likely to suffer from childhood obesity [3]
  • College graduates are more likely to be involved in their children's education both in and out of school [3]
  • The children of college graduates are more likely to go on to college and graduate themselves [3, 7] 
  • Education has had a long-touted role as "the great equaliser," the implication here is that having a degree puts people in a far better position to move up the social ladder and pass on those benefits to their children and grandchildren  


  • As the university is a place to promote critical thinking, reasoning, the winnowing and sifting for truth, and communication within the population, it stands to reason that society benefits from promoting those virtues by forming well-rounded individuals
    • This of course refers to the beliefs held by the Greeks and Romans, and continued throughout most of Western civilisation, that the liberal arts are critical to the formation of free men. 
    • More to the point, proper formation creates educated free men who are able to participate in the civic and public life
  • Education represents "investment" in one's self, specifically the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom; more education thus represents a commitment for someone to improve themselves and everyone else
  • We are fortunate to live in an information age where the opportunity to acquire knowledge is unparalleled when compared to any previous point in human history

Professional & Economic:

  • Holding a bachelor's degree implies abilities to work as a "team player," taking charge, making decisions, meeting deadlines, and following through on projects--all things that are arguably attractive to employers 
  • US Department of Labour figures repeatedly point to improved higher earning potential, with the average bachelor's degree holder making $1,066 per week while the average high school graduate makes only $652; this is a 63.5% increase for the bachelor's degree holder [1]
  • A 2012 study done by the Bureau of Labour Statistics ("Education Pays") noted that high school graduates had an unemployment rate of 8.3 percent. Those with associate's degrees had a rate of 6.2 percent, and those with bachelor's degrees had an unemployment rate of 4.5 percent. [1]
  • A 2010 study done by Georgetown University noted that workers with no more than a high-school diploma (or GED) are largely limited to three stagnating job clusters: "blue collar" work, sales and office support, and food and personal services (think: fry cook or cashier at McDonalds or "sales associate" at Walmart or Best Buy) [2]
  • Studies show that a majority of the US workforce already has some post-secondary education
    • 37% has a bachelor's degree or higher, and another 28% have either an associate's degree or some college courses under their belts [4]
    • Among 25-29 year old Americans, one-third have earned at least a bachelor's degree, which is up from 28% in 2001 and 17% in 1971 [5]
  • The increase of educational attainment is being seen across all groups, including among historically-disadvantaged minorities, immigrants, and women; all of which are on paths towards upward social mobility and more successful lives [5]
  • Clear majorities of Americans believe that collegiate education is a necessity to live a successful life [5]

Works Cited: 

[1] http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm

[2] http://www9.georgetown.edu/grad/gppi/hpi/cew/pdfs/fullreport.pdf

[3] http://jcu.edu/academic/planassess/planning/files/Planning%20articles/Broader%20Social%20Benefits.pdf

[4] http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/02/a-case-for-college-the-unemployment-rate-for-bachelors-degree-holders-is-37-percent/272779/

[5] http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2012/11/05/college-graduates-pew/1683899/

[6] http://trends.collegeboard.org/education-pays

[7] http://campaignstops.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/12/the-reproduction-of-privilege/?src=me&ref=general

Go back to Summary of Positions 

Go to Key Arguments -- No

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