Go to College or Die! Life Expectancy and Higher Education

Nov 18, 2013 | By Holly Johnson

The news can be rather depressing, especially for college-aged adults. After all, national and local media frequently report dire statistics on the state of higher education. With the drain of student loans on one side and the threat of unemployment on the other, the future doesn't always look rosy for future college grads, not to mention the increasing competition for grades once admitted to school. Study tips for college students aside, we all know that a mishmash of statistics cannot possibly tell the whole story. With such an outlook, many college-ready adults are rethinking their career strategy altogether. More and more, we hear people asking, "Is a college degree even worth it?"

Regardless of the statistics, it's important to realize that a college degree can be an invaluable investment in the future. Higher education isn't perfect and certainly isn't cheap; however, a college degree is much more than a piece of paper to proudly display on the wall. College graduates enjoy a lifetime of advantages compared to their under-educated counterparts. In addition to higher earnings, research shows that a college education is also correlated with a longer life expectancy as well. According to a 2012 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics, there is a strong correlation between the attainment of higher education and life expectancy. How strong?  On average, a 25 year old with a bachelor's degree lives almost nine years longer than an individual who doesn't graduate from high school.

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The infographic below explores some of the cumulative health and earnings benefits associated with higher education. Please reference the visual for a full list of sources.