Posts published in April, 2015

The Major Differences Having a College Degree Makes

By Kersten Stokes

Although it may not be easy to hear, graduating high school isn’t what it used to be and now everyone has this mentality that college is a requirement, and in most cases it is. Although it may be extremely hard on your mind, wallet, social activities, and more, college opens more doors and provides you with more benefits than not having a college degree. Below are some of the major differences that having a college degree makes in today’s world.

You’ll Make More Money

Probably one of the biggest differences you’ll see when you have a college degree is making more money. Median earning by education level for a high school graduate is around $21,500, whereas those that have a bachelor’s degree make approximately $42,000. Over a life time, that means you can earn a range of several thousands of dollars to a million dollars or more over your lifetime.

An interactive and informative infographic highlighting all the monetary differences of having a degree can be found at: Get A Real Degree.

You Will Feel More Empowered

College gives you skills that you don’t realize are amazing until you start using them in the real world or on your jobs. I know that after I graduated, my critical thinking skills were through the roof and have helped me get recognized at my job as a problem solver. These skills that you learn while getting your degree can affect you at your job, like they have me, or even just your day to day life in making decisions, handling situations, and having knowledge that you didn’t have previously.

While these skills will make you feel more empowered and in control of your life, they also help give you pride of knowing what you accomplished and a sense of self. I was the first one in my immediate family to graduate from college, and the immense pride that I felt for myself, as well as the pride that my family and parents felt for me was almost overwhelming. During that time, I felt like I could conquer the world and get any job I wanted. While I know that’s definitely not the case now, I know that with my degree I have so many more opportunities than if I hadn’t gone to college.

More Access to Resources

One of the best things that I like to use is the resources provided by the college I went to. You make friends at college who might be lawyers now, you might have had roommates that became doctors, or that person you met at an alumni mixer/event may offer you a job in the next few weeks. Not only will you have those people to lean on, but the school as well, which can make all the difference in the world. Or at least, getting a job that you love, uses your degree, and makes you a decent amount of money.

Opportunities Abound That You Might Not Know Of

Not only will you have more job opportunities, more chances at promotions, and more flexibility of the kinds of jobs you take, there are many opportunities out there that you might not have even thought of. As you get older, join the work force, and get a feel for what you want to do, you may decide you develop a strong interested in something unexpected. Having a valuable degree under your belt can help you pursue your dreams once you realize them and where they are taking you.

Kerstin Stokes is a 2013 graduate of the College of Idaho interested in helping others achieve their educational dreams, no matter what age they are. Kerstin enjoys hanging out with her cat, looking up tasty recipes for baking, and working to start her writing and marketing career. You can contact her via e-mail:



The 2015 Gubernatorial State of the State Addresses and Higher Education

Each year, governors throughout the country share their policy priorities for the upcoming legislative session through State of the State addresses given to a joint legislative session. Governors also use this opportunity to outline state challenges, revisit ongoing policy initiatives, and publicize accomplishments of their administration.

AASCU has analyzed 48 gubernatorial addresses that have taken place since the beginning of this year. In cases where a governor did not give a State of the State address, AASCU analyzed an inaugural or budget address. Collectively, these speeches provide insight into how state leaders view higher education as well as the fiscal and policy priorities they have put forth that could affect students, families, and institutions of higher education in the years ahead.

The following higher education-related themes were evident in this year’s gubernatorial addresses:

  • Higher education’s role in state economic development remains a cornerstone of many gubernatorial policy agendas. In line with past years, governors continued to highlight higher education’s role as a state economic driver through workforce development, university research and innovation, and strategic partnerships between the private sector and public institutions of higher education. This gubernatorial narrative affirms public colleges’ and universities’ reputations for serving as multi-faceted engines of economic expansion that are deeply embedded in regional and state economies.
  • Governors continue to propose policies to incentivize state residents to explore technical and vocational educational opportunities. A number of governors expressed concern over state businesses failing to have access to a robust talent pool in technical and vocational fields. Commonly touted responses to this challenge included making new investments in community college job training programs and forging stronger partnerships between K-12 districts, higher education institutions, and employers in order to provide educational pathways leading to high paying, in-demand careers.
  • College affordability continues to be a top concern for state chief executives. Governors throughout the country lamented the growing price of a college education in their addresses. In response, several proposed tuition freezes for the upcoming academic year and stressed their efforts to maintain or increase funding for higher education and financial aid programs. The speeches also included a number of strategies to cut costs for students and families, such as reducing the need for remedial education and expanding dual enrollment opportunities. Governors also championed policy proposals to help students pay off debt by linking debt relief to high-demand professions (i.e. teaching) in the state.
  • Governors remain committed to ensuring that veterans have successful transitions into and through college. In their addresses, several governors called on colleges and universities to recognize veterans’ education and skills through the granting of commensurate college credits.

Higher education-related topic areas from this year’s addresses are below and ordered according to their prevalence in the speeches. The link below provides a state-by-state accounting of higher education-related gubernatorial public policy proposals stemming from this year’s addresses.

2015 State of the State Addresses and Higher Education

Compiled by Thomas L. Harnisch, assistant director of state relations and policy analysis, and Emily A. Parker, senior research and policy associate