Going Back to School: Do it for Your Kids

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Moving from one job to the next may not be a problem before you become a parent, as long as you earn enough money to support your lifestyle. But having children makes a profound difference in the choices you make. If you’re weighing the pros and cons of going back to school as an adult, consider the positive impact that earning a college degree can have on your kids.

An Improved Quality of Life

We all want our kids to have a better quality of life than we had growing up, and for many, getting a college degree is the first step toward making that happen. In 2014, the Gallup and Lumina Foundation conducted a study which showed that the vast majority of Americans connect college degrees with success – and these beliefs are well-founded. According to an article by Andrew Kelly, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, college degrees can lead to improved health, romance, and even social trust. Most notably, however, earning a college degree can potentially put you in line for higher-paying jobs, which makes obtaining a better standard of living for you and your family a more realistic goal. This “better standard” means something different to everyone, but can include things like being able to raise your family in a neighborhood with good schools, having access to health care, and being able to afford family vacations.

Motivation for Higher Education

You might want your kids to go to college, but if you don’t have a degree yourself, their decision is left up to chance. Many surveys, such as National Journal's “The Next America” poll, indicate that college degrees are inherited – children of parents who graduated from college are more likely to attend and graduate from college themselves. Leading by example – letting your kids see you pursue higher education – plays a vital role in motivating them to go to college. When you're deciding whether to pursue a degree, think about the legacy you want to leave your kids. Finishing a course of study can put the wheels in motion that make higher education a no-brainer in your family for generations to come.

Long-Term Financial Security

Believe it or not, having a college degree makes a big difference in how well you and your family will live when you retire. With a college degree, you can seek employment opportunities that offer 401(k)s to provide income after you leave the workforce. In an interview on the financial benefits of education, Ina Jaff of NPR argues that “those with more education tend to stay in the workforce longer.” And working longer means accumulating more retirement benefits offered by your employer. Jaff also notes that post-graduate degree-holders earn “three to five times” that of a worker with only a high school degree – so while you’re working longer, you’re also earning more. If you plan on helping your children pay for their own college educations, this factor becomes much more valuable.

Do It for Yourself, Do It for Them

Going back to school should first and foremost be a choice you make for yourself, whether you’re looking to advance in the workplace or to simply acquire a new genre of knowledge. But with children in the picture, the choice to enroll may be the first step toward a future of financial security and scholarly ambition for them too. If you’re still at odds over whether or not to pursue your degree, remember that while you’ll likely see the return on your investment in your lifetime, the standard you set by pursuing higher education could last in your family for generations.


Written by Maya Black for Ashford University


Brownstein, R. (2014, April 11). Are College Degrees Inherited? Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/04/are-college-degrees-inherited/360532/

Kelly, A. (2015, April 28). The Neglected Majority: What Americans Without A College Degree Think About Higher Education, Part 1. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/akelly/2015/04/28/the-neglected-majority-what-americans-without-a-college-degree-think-about-higher-education-part-1/

Financial Benefits Of A College Degree Accumulate. (n.d.). Retrieved November 17, 2015, from http://www.npr.org/2014/01/06/260119063/financial-benefits-of-a-college-degree-accumulate

Gallup 2015. (n.d.). Retrieved November 17, 2015, from https://www.luminafoundation.org/news-and-events/gallup-2015

Wage Premium From College Is Said to Be Up. (2014, February 11). Retrieved November 17, 2015, from http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/02/11/wage-premium-from-college-is-said-to-be-up/?_r=1

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