Article - Perks of a Graduate Degree:

What do Bill Murray, Dustin Hoffman and Ellen DeGeneres all have in common in addition to being entertainers? They are all successful folks who are categorized as famous college drop outs. While these individuals prove that it is possible to blaze a trail to success, the fact is for the average Jane or Joe, education is the best tool to increasing the odds of making it happen.

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Success can be achieved with a combination of effort, luck and timing; earning a high school diploma and additional degrees can also be part of the process. Studies conducted by the Pew Research Center have shown that individuals with a college degree fare better during economic downturns then their less educated counterparts. Other studies have shown that those with a graduate degree stand the best chances of achieving economic success of all education levels.

Novelty diploma seller,, defines a graduate degree as "An academic award bestowed by a college or university after successfully completing a course of education or studies pursued after first receiving a Bachelor's Degree." However, a graduate degree is much more than that, as the level of education demonstrates that an individual is committed. Those who have graduate degrees often earn great recognition for their achievements. Aside from a personal sense of worth, graduate credentials are linked to exceptional career growth.

Regardless of a career path, chances are that a living wage must be part of the package. Individuals who want to collect the biggest chunk of that change are wise to pursue higher education as U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2012 statistics show that higher education will contribute to higher median weekly earnings. According to the government statistics, for full-time workers over the age of 25, master's degree holders earn nearly twice as much per week than individuals who only have a high school diploma ($1300 per week vs. $652 per week).

While some folks may be happy with a steady paycheck, others may want to couple money with titles and breaking through the glass ceiling. A master's degree can help make that happen. A graduate degree is vital for certain career paths such as special education teachers, professors, advanced practice nurses, school administrator position and occupational therapist. Additionally, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that for many other careers (including but not limited to sports medicine, business management and dietitians) earning a master's degree prior to working is becoming the new norm.

In a separate study, the Pew Research Center compared employment statistics for workers aged 21 years to 24 year-olds for two years before and during the 2007 to 2009 recession. Prior to the nation's economic retraction, 55 percent of high school diploma holders had work, that number dropped to 47 percent during the crisis. Associated degree holders/job seekers also experienced challenges, their employment numbers dropped from 64 percent to 57 percent during the same time period. Bachelor degree holders did not experience such retractions.

According to the study, new bachelor degree holders had a better time managing the nation's financial storm. Prior to the recession, 69 percent of bachelor degree holders were classified as either part-time or full-time employees; the number slid a mere four points to 65 percent during the Great Recession.

Aside from being more likely to have a job during economic downturns, college graduates also had a greater earning potential than their non-degree earning counterparts. Individual workers who had college degrees experienced an average wage decrease of 5 percent. Those who had an associate's degree experienced a 12 percent decrease in earning potential while high school graduates saw their wages drop by 10 percent.

Despite the fact that a college education can make a job applicant more attractive, individuals need to properly evaluate if a college degree is right for them. While statistics indicated that the odds of employment are better for college educated folks, the math may show that the cost of the education will take many years to pay off. By crunch the numbers prior to working towards a college degree can an individual determine if it is a worthy investment.

Presently, student debt is considered to be the nation's fasted growing economic situation that may potentially trigger off another economic retraction. The average student loan debt of the 2011 college graduate class was close to $27,000; in total there is more than $1 trillion in outstanding student loan debt.

No matter if a person is motivated by money or personal growth, earning a graduate degree has numerous perks. However, before a person can enjoy those benefits they have to commit themselves to years of education (a bachelor's degree is typically earned in a 4-year period and the master's degree process can add another 2-3 years until graduation time) and large expenses in the tens of thousands of dollars range.

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