With student loan debt rising to astronomical rates, it’s no surprise that the value of college is being questioned more and more. However, it’s important to note that corruption in the ranks of student loan companies doesn’t mean college itself has lost its value.

College graduates still have higher incomes, better employment rates, more health benefits, and healthier children than their non-college-educated counterparts. They also gain valuable social skills and have unsurpassed opportunities to network and form mentoring relationships that are extremely difficult to get elsewhere. Studies have even shown college graduates statistically live longer!

Need some stats to back those assertions up? Here you go:

  • According to the US Census Bureau, the average income for people 25 years old and older with a college degree is between $65,482 and $92,525 compared to the income of those without a degree, who made on average $35,615.
  • The median income of households headed up by someone with a Bachelor’s degree in 2011 was $100,096—more than double the income of a family headed by a high school graduate.
  • Want to be rich someday? It’s worth noting that 85% of the people on the 2012 version of Forbes’s America’s 400 Richest People were college grads.
  • A projection of the economy and job predictions from Georgetown University found that, by 2018, about 63% of all jobs will require some sort of college education.
  • On average, college graduates live about six years longer than those who didn’t go to college. They have greater access to healthcare, statistically have lower blood pressure, exercise regularly, and report being in “excellent health.”

Also of note: There is a big difference in the demographics of people who are pro-college versus those who aren’t. For example, of people who have actually attended college—and are therefore the most qualified to make an informed assessment of it—63% say it’s worth it, while only 31% say it isn’t. Women, who for many years weren’t even allowed access to higher education, predominantly remain in favor of it, while men are the ones whose opinions have taken a downward spiral in recent years. (I’ll let you draw your own conclusions).

While the student loan debt situation is absolutely atrocious, the actual value of college hasn’t changed. The quality of education, the connections, and even the social skills a student gains in college are vital for later success in life, particularly when it comes to professional accomplishments. The actual point of a liberal arts education, remember, is to expose students to new world views and new opportunities to improve their critical thinking. Those skills are vital to a successful career—and they’re hard to come by anywhere other than college.

About 

Jane is a twenty-something Bostonian who is passionate about social justice, art, and anything else that strikes her fancy. She likes long walks by the beach (really!), Chinese takeout, and learning new things.