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I've seen quite a bit of data that states college graduates earn significantly more than someone with just a high school diploma. Though some of the statistics seem to be all over the place with quite a big gap between exactly how much they mean by "significantly more". I also don't think they're looking at all the aspects either.
Some state that, on average, those with at least a bachelors degree earn around $32,000 more than those who only posses a high school diploma, while others claim the number is around a $20,000 difference. Either way, the numbers they seem to be referring to is the average annual earnings of $78,000 for a college graduate (not taking what type of degree into consideration), and the average annual earnings of $45,000 for a high school graduate.
Although it's hard to argue with numbers, I'd have to say I disagree with the assessment that a bachelors degree is the ticket to earning much more money. I know plenty of people who never went on to higher-education in the form a associates/bachelors, though they became very successful and picked up what they needed to know along the way. Another route the average numbers aren't taking into consideration is trade school certificates. The U.S. in particular right now is desperate for trade workers, most of which make exceptional money. They don't need someone who has an associates in business, they need someone who went through a few months or a year of that particular trade's education. Along with that, you don't even need a trade certificate in some cases where an apprenticeship is accepted. These people go on to work a lifetime in a good paying career without an education above a high school diploma.
I just don't agree with the thought that a bachelors degree should be so pushed on kids these days. Everyone knows what the college system has become and it seems to be hurting people in ways that are almost not justifiable in any way now.