Earning a degree impacts long-term health


Maiah Woodring/The Lion’s Roar

While attending college can bring its share of stressors and anxiety, obtaining a degree can lead to greater health care benefits such as a lower mortality rate and a greater chance for employment with a higher salary.

Obtaining a college degree can impact students’ long-term health and well-being.

Advanced degrees may give aspiring employees an advantage in obtaining jobs that offer higher salaries and job satisfaction. A study by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that the unemployment rate in December 2018 was 3.8 percent among high school graduates compared to 2.1 percent among college graduates with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Kirsten Dantin, a graduate student in the counseling program, discussed how the added health care benefits for employees with an educational degree can lead to improved overall well-being.

“In my opinion, people with a college education have the opportunity to get more full-time jobs with health care benefits, such as health insurance,” commented Dantin. “People with those benefits are more likely to go to the doctor regularly and catch illnesses earlier.”

According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, adults with higher levels of education are less likely to engage in risky behaviors such as smoking or drinking.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that in 2010, about 35 percent of people who did not complete high school were smokers compared to about 30 percent of high school graduates who did not attend college and about 13 percent of college graduates.

Nicholas Mayeur, coordinator of fitness and wellness for Recreational Sports and Wellness, believes that pursuing a college degree can lead to a more accurate understanding of proper well-being and limit unhealthy habits.

“The university does an excellent job of getting awareness of health and wellness,” explained Mayeur. “You spend sort of an investment on your health. If you learn the foundations of a good, healthy lifestyle and habits while in college, then it will make an easier transition in one’s professional career and life.”

A 2015 research article by Dr. Patrick Krueger, associate professor of health and behavioral sciences, and colleagues attributed a greater mortality rate to lower education levels.

However, the process of obtaining a degree while managing numerous responsibilities outside of the classroom can create a concern for long-term mental and physical health.

“Stress and anxiety over a long period can negatively influence your future well-being,” expressed Dantin. “When someone is in school and constantly stressed, it will become an issue for your bodily functions and possibly cause illness or make you susceptible to illness.”

To decrease the risk of future health problems, students can work on time management while pursuing their degree.

“College is not easy by any means nor is keeping yourself healthy,” shared Mayeur. “Having to pay rent and pay bills while maintaining a good GPA and working towards graduation, all of those factors are stressors. Being able to effectively manage out your time is extremely important to trying to find that balance and staying healthy in the long run.”

Attending college can bring stress and anxiety, but in the long-term, obtaining a degree can mean lower health risks.