As a culture, we place a high value on education. We know that a sound education is the pathway to a stable job and a decent standard of living—not a guarantee, of course, but an indispensable stepping-stone toward financial independence and control over one’s career. As a recent Pew Charitable Trusts study shows, the higher a person’s level of education, the greater their advantages in the workforce.
But how does higher education—a college or postgraduate degree—affect who we are on a deeper level? What impact does it have on our values, our creativity, and on our capacity to bring something constructive and meaningful into the world? It turns out that the benefits of higher education go far beyond a person’s private, professional sphere. According to a Trends in Higher Education report, society as a whole benefits when we push ourselves to earn a college degree. Employers and our country’s economy reap benefits as well.
Benefits for employers: productive and motivated employees
Job satisfaction among people with a bachelor’s degree is higher than for those who have a high school diploma. Many companies regard their employees' positive feelings about the work environment as a key component of a successful strategy. As an article in Forbes explains, “happy employees lead directly to better performance and higher profits.”
Benefits for hospitals: the value of BSN nurses
For hospitals, the desirability of a BSN-credentialed nursing force has been well documented. “BSN nurses are prized for their skills in critical thinking, leadership, case management, and health promotion, and for their ability to practice across a variety of inpatient and outpatient settings,” says the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. “Nurse executives, federal agencies, the military, leading nursing organizations, health care foundations, magnet hospitals, and minority nurse advocacy groups all recognize the unique value that baccalaureate-prepared nurses bring to the practice setting.”
Civic benefits: healthier and involved citizens
Through our taxes, we contribute to our nation’s prized services and infrastructure. The higher our level of education, the more likely we are to lead a healthy lifestyle—by exercising, not smoking, and eating right—thus reducing the chances of having to seek costly medical care.
And here’s a surprising benefit: Higher learning is good for our democratic institutions. The Trends in Higher Education report found that 45% of those with at least a bachelor’s degree “reported understanding quite a bit or a great deal about the political issues facing our country,” compared with 21% of high school graduates. College-educated citizens are more likely to vote. They’re also more likely to donate their time and expertise to charities.
Higher education builds character
Let’s face it; learning new skills and competencies takes hard work, effort and commitment. Students don’t just acquire knowledge when they study, they also develop their ability to reason and think critically. In the field of health care education, where so much of the learning prepares students to work with patients and other medical professionals, we develop emotional and communication skills involving listening, empathy and leadership. The mental muscle and emotional maturity we gain when we undertake higher learning pays off for society as well as for the individual. When we dream of making the world a better place, college seems like a good place to start turning that dream into reality. Nelson Mandela reminded us of this enduring truth in a 2003 speech: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
We can also make a more personal argument: A bachelor’s degree is a powerful weapon for changing ourselves and taking charge of our careers. Nurses who seek a BSN degree know this. To read more about the benefits of an online BSN program, click on How Completing My BSN Changed My Life or download our guide:
St. Vincent’s College also offers an exceptional lineup of certificates, AS and BS degree programs to prepare you for fast-growing careers in the health care field. A certificate program can be an important step toward earning a bachelor’s degree, and much of the coursework can be completed online or in the evenings, allowing students to continue to work at paid jobs. You can learn about the exciting opportunities in these blogs: