Get The Facts: College Degree vs High School Diploma? Learn the Top 5 Benefits of Going to College

Hand holding Diploma wrapped with a red ribbon.
Did you know? You can enjoy these “Top 5 Benefits of Going to College” –  without getting a 4-year degree at a traditional university? (Photo details: © Teerawut Masawat –

Congratulations! You’ve Graduated from High School – Now What Will Your Next Move Be?

Many high school students, and perhaps their parents, often wrestle with these questions:

  • Does a person earn more money with a college degree vs high school diploma?
  • Is it worthwhile to go to college?

Research shows that yes, those who know the value of a college degree usually do make more than those with only a high school diploma do.


Here are the ‘Top 5 Benefits’ of Going to College:


Benefit #1 – A college graduate usually makes more money than a high school graduate.

Concept for good investment and money making
Plan ahead now for your future – Look at the median full-time salaries of young adults with and without college degrees after high school. (Photo details: © grazvydas –

The following research is very general, but it can give you an idea of the approximate differences in salaries in 2014.

Median Salaries* – Young adults 25-34 Working Full-time, Year-round

  • 4-Year College (Bachelor’s Degree):$49,880
  • Associates Degree: $34,970
  • Some College, No Degree: $31,810
  • High School Diploma: $30,000
  • No High School Diploma: $24,960

*NOTE: “Median Salary” is defined as: the middle number in a set of numbers. Median is not the same as average (which is also called the “mean”). The median salaries above do not represent the “starting” salaries in a career field.

Benefit #2 – The unemployment rate of those with a college degree is usually lower than those with just a high school diploma.

Find ajob made by many post it
Don’t want to live with your parents until you’re 40? Your chances of becoming unemployed are greatly decreased with the more education you get. (Photo details: © fuzzbones –

Research in 2015 has shown that those who have a higher education level usually have a lower rate of unemployment.

Unemployment Rates of Young Adults 20-24 Working Full-time, Year-round

  • Bachelors Degree or Higher: 5% unemployment
  • Some College, No Bachelors Degree: 10% unemployment
  • High School Diploma: 16% unemployment

One can see that in most cases, the more education that one has, the higher their income will be and the lower their unemployment rate will be.

Benefit #3 – There are many non-monetary advantages of having a college degree vs a high school diploma.

Origami fortune teller on vacation at the beach concept for work life balance choices
By going to college after high school, you can can enjoy a happier lifestyle in general with: career satisfaction, job stability, health insurance, and an opportunity for advancement in your career. (Photo details: © Brian Jackson –

The monetary benefits of going to college compared to only having a high school diploma are easy to see. However, there are other advantages of attending college.

  • A college degree will enhance your marketability
  • College graduates receive greater benefits provided by their employer, such as health insurance
  • College graduates are more satisfied with their careers.
  • A college degree allows a graduate to have greater job stability
  • A college degree has a large impact on one’s family. They are better off economically and socially.
  • Earning a college degree helps a graduate to make better life choices
  • Earning a college degree positively affects the student’s verbal and written communication skills

Benefit #4 – There are statistics supporting a 2-year degree/college (trade school, technical college, vocational school) over a community college or a 4-year degree.

For those students who are trying to choose between earning a 2-year degree/college (trade school, technical college, vocational school, etc.) or a community college or 4-year degree, here are some interesting statistics:

Deciding on whether to go to University or Trade School, Two Blue Road Sign with text University and Trade School with sky background
You have many options for ‘going to college’ after high school. If you choose to attend a trade school, you can earn a professional certificate or an associate degree in much less time than a four year degree. (Photo details: © Karen Roach –

Statistics Supporting Success of Trade/Vocational/Technical School

  • Seven out of 10 workers do not have a bachelor’s degree. This is because many jobs do not require a four-year college degree.
  • Fourteen of the 20 fastest growing jobs only require an associate’s degree or less.
  • Eighteen of the 20 occupations projected to have the most new jobs by 2020 also only require an associates/vocational/trade school degree.
  • The lifetime earnings for trade school graduates are not much less than for a college graduate, and are often much higher.

Studies show that middle skill jobs (such as those learned at a trade/vocational school) will have the largest increase in new jobs from 2013-2017.

This is because:

  • Most of the jobs requiring mastery of a trade will remain in the U.S. rather than sending them to another country
  • Demand for high precision skills are increasing because a large number of these workers are reaching retirement age and need someone to fill their shoes.

Benefit #5 – There Are Many Benefits of Getting a College Education at a Trade or Technical College.

It is important that students preparing to graduate from high school have a plan for their future. For some, this means going to a 4-year college. For others, however, a Trade or technical college may be a better match. They need to weigh the pros and cons of a college degree vs high school diploma.

Hands of young student girl with a book on people group background.
Benefits of attending a trade school or technical college include: time and money saved, hands-on training in a specialized career field, and the current high demand for skilled trades careers. (Photo details: © Kurhan –

Those students might benefit from going to a trade college include:

  • Those who cannot afford the cost of a 4-year college
  • Those who want to focus on specialized field
  • Those who are qualified in their work area and want to continue their education in that area
  • Those who want to learn a trade, but cannot attend college full time due to family commitments or another daytime job

Some of the benefits of getting an education at a trade or technical college:

  • Specialized job training
  • Smaller classrooms allowing for more teacher-student interaction
  • Varying class days and times to fit most schedules
  • Hands on training that is especially good for those who “learn by doing”
  • Earning a degree is quicker
  • Tuition and expenses are much less than a 4-year college
  • Students learn real-world skills
  • There are more job prospects in the trades area
  • The lifetime earnings of a student attending a trade college are often the same as those of a student attending a 4-year college

In Summary

High school is one of the most important times in a student’s life. It is at this time that the student starts building the basis of their future, especially what they want to achieve in the future. Those most successful in their lives are those who continued their education and know the value of a college degree. A good majority of them attended trade/vocational colleges and, due to that decision, now have a very successful and profitable job.

Additional Resources

  • The Benefits of a College Degree –
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics: TED: The Economics Daily –
  • Earnings and Unemployment Rates by Educational Attainment –
  • Department of Education-Fact Sheet: Focusing Higher Education on Student Success –

Sources Used

  • IntelliTec Colleges Blog: What Career Path is Right for You? – https://intellitec.eduwhat-career-path-is-right-for-you/
  • Fast Facts: What Is the Average Income for Young Adults –
  • Median Weekly Earnings by Educational Attainment in 2014 –
  • Pew Research Center, February 1, 2014, The Rising Cost of Not Going to College –
  • Employment and Unemployment Rates by Educational Attainment –
  • Employment Rates of College Graduates –
  • College Education vs. High School Diploma –
  • High School vs. Associate Degree Earnings –
  • The Benefits of a College Degree –
  • New Castle School of Trades: Should I Go to Trade School or College? –
  • North American Trade Schools: Trade School vs. College-7 Things You Need to Know –
  • Education Level and Jobs: Opportunities by State –
  • Why You Should Consider Trade School Instead of College –
  • University, Community College or Trade School: Which Makes the Most Economic Sense? –
  • The Value of Education: 7 Reasons to Get Vocational Training –
  • Vocational High Schools: Career Path or Kiss of Death? –
  • Comparing Types of Colleges: The Pros and Cons of Technical Schools –