Newby: Higher education directly affects success

With the American population more educated than it has been before and the unemployment rate falling, the importance of pursuing postsecondary education becomes more obvious.


Wyatt Dlouhy

The Old Capitol building is seen in 2018.

Taylor Newby, Opinion Columnist

With the end of the semester arriving in a wave of study groups and test preparation, the question arises of whether this is all worth it. The tight schedules, high-pressure courses, and countless hours studying often leave us underwhelmed with a sense of under-delivery at our education. But statistics and studies prove that pursuing our higher education prepares us better and reaps a greater reward. All that to say, it’s worth it.

Recently, the Census Bureau released research revealing that the American population is more educated than ever before, with 90 percent of people ages 25 and older having completed at least high school. And that number nearly parallels with Iowa City, where 95 percent of people ages 25 and older have completed high school or higher. With such an astounding number having completed their education, Iowa City has an encouragingly low number of people without work.

While the population of educated Americans is climbing, the number of those unemployed is dropping. In Iowa City, that number is down to only 1.8 percent. And while all of this looks good on paper, it’s important to be encouraged in your pursuit of a degree by looking at the bigger picture.

One of the biggest concerns in continuing education is the cost — and rightfully so. Just this year, the tuition of the University of Iowa went up. But the UI makes it easy and accessible to apply for scholarships and grants, while planning with students on how to take out loans and what paying them back will look like in the years after graduation.

All of this means, though taking out loans and applying for scholarships can feel taxing and intimidating, what a degree delivers upon graduating pays off.

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Because, according to Student Debt Relief, going to college financially is worth it. Right now, the pay-gap disparity is at an all-time high between people in the workforce with a college degree and those in the workforce without one. High-school graduates without a college degree earn an estimated $49,000 salary while other high-school graduates forego earning income in the pursuit of education. However, data from within the last five years show that those with a bachelor’s degree make up to 98 percent more per hour. And those with a college degree are three times more likely to move from the lowest income level to the top.

Along with financial benefits, there’s higher job satisfaction in those who earn degrees than those who don’t. There are more on-the-job benefits that a number of well-paying positions offer to those with bachelor’s degrees. That isn’t to say that there aren’t any for those with only high-school diplomas, but that is to say there are far fewer offered.

And amid conversations about the monetary value and whether college is worth it, it’s also important not to miss the meaning of pursuing degrees — and that there really isn’t a time limit in how soon after high school people have to make up their minds.

More than anything, it’s important to keep learning, keep discovering, and keep pursuing the things that you’re passionate about. And if lining up where you are financially and where your area of study can take you, it’s good to pursue degrees. Especially at a university such as the UI, ranked in the top 5 percent of universities around the world, it offers 200 plus areas of study with 13 graduate programs ranked among the top 10 in the country.

And so, whichever direction and whatever way education makes the most sense, keep learning.