The Paradox of Higher Education - Part 1

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A day does not go by where I do not read an article or get involved in a discussion about Higher Education. There is always an ongoing debate where a College Degree or an University Degree is mandatory.

There is always a level of confusion among today’s youth about Higher Education. There are conflicting studies,opinions on whether a Higher Education is mandatory or not.

My two cents – it totally depends on the individual. For some a degree is a must, for others it is not.

However, I want to take an unbiased approach to this debate- The Paradox of Higher Education.

I will be publishing two articles- in the first part, I will outline all the benefits of obtaining a Higher Education. In the second part I will discuss all the demerits/disadvantages of obtaining a Higher Education.

I will leave the readers to deduce their own opinions.


In this first article, let’s discuss some of the advantages of completing a Graduate Degree.

  1. Higher Life-time Income

The Paradox of Higher Education - Part 1

Few years ago, I accompanied my brother to his university orientation event. He was about to start his four years of Higher Education at a popular University in Canada.

We were guided to an information session, wherein a Professor and also an existing University student were going to walk us through the daily life of an university student.

The first thing he said as he began his speech “Congratulations on starting your 4 year journey to earning a Graduate degree. Many studies have proven that an university graduate earns $1 million more over her lifetime as opposed to a high school graduate”.

$1 million– That definitely caught my attention. However , it was $1 Million over 40 years (considering that an average employee works from age 25 to 65). That’s $1 million divided by 40 – which is $25000 more per year. Not bad.

No matter how you slice it – $25000 more per year or $1 million higher lifetime earnings – this is an impressive number.

I decided to do some research on this to validate that bold statement. As soon as the orientation was complete – I set to my favourite knowledge-base i.e Google to search if this was true.

As per this article published by Universities Canada, the statement checked out. Also, The Conference Board of Canada has put together some interesting charts and dashboards that validates this idea further.

However that $25000 is not an absolute difference. It varies during the life-time of the graduate. The income difference is lowest immediately after graduation, however the difference improves significantly (20% to 100%) during their 40s.

Also, this income difference varies from one country to another. The income difference between graduates and non-graduates is the highest in the United States as opposed to other countries in the West.

2. For some Careers, A Degree is a MUST

The Paradox of Higher Education - Part 1

You wouldn’t want to get surgery from a doctor who learnt how to operate by watching YouTube videos. Would you? I know that is a crazy analogy, but I was trying to make a point that for some Professions a Degree is Mandatory.

For Medical Professionals – it is mandatory to obtain a degree to even get started – Surgeons, Pediatricians, Chiropractors, Cardiologists, etc. There is no way around this – it will be impossible to even get an internship without a proper University Degree.

The same goes for Lawyers, Engineers, Teachers, etc. For these careers – the technical knowledge is essential. And this technical knowledge is obtained by a University Degree.

The more specialized someone becomes, the more necessary graduation and post-graduation becomes.

If you have already made up your mind to become a Doctor, Lawyer or an Engineer – then there is no debate here – enroll in a reputable university. Although, this is not a guarantee for immediate employment upon graduation- it definitely boosts your career & earning potential over your lifetime.

3. Benefits to Society

The Paradox of Higher Education - Part 1

Let’s continue the discussion of money i.e. higher income. The higher your income, the higher your taxes. Most countries have some type of a tax system. And the taxes that are collected are used for building roads, schools, providing public society,etc. That’s how taxation works.

If an university graduate is earning more money over his/her lifetime-then this directly corresponds to higher taxes. In my opinion, that is a direct contribution to society.

I don’t know what your stance is- but I am totally OK with paying taxes. Infact, I have read that the countries that collect more taxes provide a higher quality of lives for their citizens- Sweden,Denmark, Canada,etc.I recommend you check this article out for more data about the relation between Taxes and Quality of Life.

According to a study completed by the American College Board, Graduates donate more blood; they are more likely to vote and they are more tolerant. They also volunteer more than non-graduates.

In other studies, it has proven that there is a correlation between crime rate and lack of higher education. In a nutshell, the more likely someone obtains a higher education, the more the likelihood that they will state out of prison.

4. Health Benefits

The Paradox of Higher Education - Part 1

According to a study conducted by the University of Notre Dame, college graduates experience more health benefits than non-grads. A startling finding from that study was that the mortality rates for high-school graduates was more than twice than that of college and university graduates.

In another study it was found that non-graduates are at a higher risk of afflicting Diabetes than college graduates. There is also a higher tendency of smoking among non-graduates & high school graduates to smoke as opposed to college & university graduates.

More studies have proven that 56% of Graduates get more career satisfaction as opposed to just over 30% with a high school diploma. And a higher career satisfaction corresponds to lower stress and lower mental health issues.


In summary, we have looked at various studies & facts that support the notion that obtaining a Higher Education (College Degree or University Degree) provides more benefits to the individual – Higher Income, Higher Career Satisfaction, Better Health Benefits,etc.

The benefits to society are also improved significantly – lower healthcare costs, lower crime rates and more taxes.

In the next article,we will discuss the other side of the coin – the demerits/disadvantages of a Higher Education. Stay tuned!!

Written By
Nissar Ahamed is the Founder & CEO of CareerMetis.com. He is also the host of The Career Insider Podcast and the co-host of The C.A.R.E. Podcast

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