Benefits of Higher Education
Higher education benefits the person, our state and society in general.
- Individual - Higher levels of education increase earnings potential and decrease job instability. A college graduate will earn an average of $1 million more than a high school graduate over a lifetime and is less likely to be unemployed.
- Oklahoma - Research indicates that states with high levels of education enjoy better economic returns and a better quality of life. Workers with more education earn higher incomes, which result in more tax revenue for the state. In addition, the state’s costs for social programs are reduced because college graduates are less likely to need unemployment or public assistance payments and are less likely to be incarcerated.
- Society - College graduates are more likely to vote in elections, volunteer in their communities and make charitable contributions.
As businesses and industries look to Oklahoma as a possible site for relocation or expansion, the education level of their potential workforce is key in the ultimate decision of whether to bring or create more jobs in our state. Oklahoma currently ranks 42nd among the 50 states in the number of adults 25 years and older with at least a bachelor’s degree. Although Oklahoma lags behind the national average in the proportion of college graduates in its population, since 2000 our state has increased the percentage of adults with a bachelor’s or associate degree at a faster rate than the national average.
In 2004, Oklahoma public colleges and universities graduated 1,049 more students than in 2002. The latest State Regents’ Employment Outcomes Report found that 89 percent of associate degree graduates and 86 percent of bachelor’s degree graduates remain in Oklahoma one year after graduation. However, those figures dropped to 76 percent and 67 percent, respectively, after five years. Although the majority of college graduates remain in Oklahoma, many of those in technical fields of study, such as engineering and computer science, are leaving the state for better employment opportunities.