The Value of Education in our Communities


Whether we realize it or not, we pick up a lot more in school than just learning how to read, write, and do math. Study after study has shown the value of education to the community far outweighs the benefits to us individually. A recent report published by the College Board emphasizes the importance of encouraging all young people to strive to complete high school and continue on to college.

The report shows that college graduates contribute more to their communities than those with only a high school diploma. Degree holders have a much higher chance of volunteering, voting, and even giving blood than those who didn’t finish high school or went to work right after high school graduation. In 2006, 43 percent of college graduates surveyed said they volunteered while only 20 percent of high school graduates who responded gave time to nonprofits in their community.

There are, of course, individual benefits of education, but many of these benefits are also valuable to society as a whole. Based on the report, it appears that investing in education may be one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty and improve health. The value of education when considering how it benefits entire communities cannot be ignored.

As time goes on, the gap between the average salary of a college graduate and someone with a high school diploma grows wider. According to the report, a person who held a professional degree had an average salary of $100,000 and a college graduate made $51,900 on average while the average high school graduate earned only $31,500 in 2005. This means that a college graduate is less likely to live in poverty.

The College Board says there is also a correlation between higher education and improved health. Those with a college degree report being in “excellent” or “very good” health more frequently than those who did not attend college, according to the report. Those who finished college also reported being more active, and are less likely to smoke or drink heavily. When individuals are healthier, their communities benefit from them being more engaged.

United Way California Capital Region believes in the importance of education for all people, no matter their demographic or socioeconomic background. United Way STAR Readers promote quality early education, graduating high school on time, and ensuring access to higher education for all.