It’s a notion long-held within society: Going to college will enhance your life. But how? Let’s set aside the obvious mainstays: You gain knowledge and real-world experience, are exposed to a diverse student population and perhaps make lifelong friends and mentors. But wait, there’s more! Earning a college degree offers a whole host of additional perks you may not even realize.
- Earn more money, experience less unemployment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers with higher levels of education “typically earn more and have lower rates of unemployment compared with workers who have less education.” Over a lifetime, reports show that college graduates will make 84 percent more than those with a high school diploma. The CSU consistently boosts the earnings capacity of its alumni by graduating job-ready students who are prepared to become leaders in today’s changing workforce.
- Raise your voice! Have a say in our government. The higher your education level, the more inclined you are to rock the vote—and that’s at the local, state and federal level. Assembly Bill 59, signed in October 2019, amended the Voter’s Choice Act to require that college campuses with 10,000 or more students be considered for vote centers, which includes CSU and University of California campuses, as well as community colleges and private universities. As a result, vote centers on CSU campuses have made voting more accessible and convenient for busy students.
- Call the shots—be your own boss. College graduates are twice as likely to launch a small business. We all know that every venture starts with an idea, a seed that must be nurtured in order to grow to its full potential. At the CSU, students, faculty and alumni are offered a multitude of resources to help bring their concepts to fruition. They include entrepreneur undergrad and graduate programs, incubators, accelerators, maker spaces, mentorships, internships and access to angel funding.
- Transform your family tree. “Do as I do” has proven effective, as 85 percent of children whose parents graduated from college will also attend. At the CSU, nearly one-third of students are the first in their families to attend college, and they serve as role models for younger generations in their household.
- Invest in and shape our democracy. Degree holders tend to run for public office, contact their legislators, get involved in grassroots movements and attend civic meetings more often. “The CSU is educating leaders of tomorrow,” says Judy Botelho, director of the CSU Office of the Chancellor’s Center for Community Engagement. “No matter what careers they have, we want them to be civically engaged in their neighborhoods, globally or locally. The work we do helps support civic engagement behaviors, both while they’re in college and afterward.”
- Never stop evolving. Albert Einstein once said, “The important thing is not to stop questioning.” College graduates appear to agree, as they often remain lifelong learners. The CSU offers professional and continuing education (PaCE) that extends beyond the traditional university setting to accommodate the educational and professional development needs of today’s workforce.
- Pay it forward. Degree holders are more likely to donate to charity, twice as likely to volunteer and three times as likely to serve as school, community and religious leaders. CSU students contribute 32 million hours of community service annually—an economic impact of $738 million. The university also offers programs, such as service learning, that boost retention, build character, create networking opportunities and teach real-world skills. And students often walk away from the experience with a newfound perspective that can last a lifetime.
- Bring your ideas to fruition. Did you know that 90 percent of U.S. patent holders are college graduates? Now more than ever, as we face economic challenges sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic, creativity and innovation will be critical. “In any economic cycle, entrepreneurs and small business owners are typically driving the renewal process,” says Mike Stull, Ph.D., director of the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship at California State University, San Bernardino. “[The CSU] can serve as the pipeline for employees who are going to be changemakers in the community.”
- Stake your independence. Degree holders pay far more in taxes over a lifetime—and are far less likely to rely on public services. In fact, the CSU serves as an economic catalyst for the state. For every $1 California invests in the CSU, $6.98 of industry activity is stimulated in the state. When the impact of the enhanced earnings of CSU alumni (due to their CSU degree) are factored in, the ratio rises to $29.90 in total economic activity.
- Boost your chances of longevity. College grads don’t just focus on their minds; they make sure their bodies are in tune as well. You’ll find they tend to smoke less, exercise more and have lower levels of obesity than those without degrees.