Although the education system in the United States is often maligned (and rightfully so) it turns out that our higher education system (college, basically) is quite excellent. It was just ranked as number one in the world by Universitas 21, a group dedicated to ranking countries and their higher education systems to stress how important it is for developing nations to educate their students.
Other countries in the top ten include Sweden, Canada, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Norway, Australia, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. It’s no surprise that these are some of the wealthiest, most successful countries in the world. Education is the key to developing industry, to creating future businessman, and more. School education is what makes the world a better place and can lift a country to a new place where it excels, achieves, and creates wealth and opportunity for its citizens.
Recently a study was released that making any more than $75,000 to $100,000 per year has no effect on your happiness. If you boil it down what they’re saying is that once you can afford the things you need like food, transportation, a place to live, and a little bit of leisure no amount of money is going to buy you true happiness. It buys you novelty (new experiences, in other word) but ultimately being a millionaire makes you no happier than if you made $80,000 a year.
The point here is the higher school education might be the key to happiness. With a high school degree the average salary is $27,000. With an post graduate degree the average salary is $74,000. That puts you right in that happiness range, particularly if you have a spouse or significant other contributing money. The answer is clear: get yourself a college education and you’ll be happier.
In some pockets teachers unions are blamed for the decline of education in the United States. It’s hard to tell if that’s true but there are good arguments for why the unions are making it hard to improve education. It largely revolves around the teachers unions being incredibly strong and thus able to prevent any changes that might make the school education system better.
For instance, if teachers were to receive merit based pay it would largely eliminate those that get into the job for the retirement package and health care and end up doing very little when it comes to actual teaching. The unions also oppose school choice, which would allow parents to choose where their students went to school. This would give entire school systems incentive to get better and stop being satisfied with the status quo
The truth of the matter is that in the United States, at least, it’s almost always the right choice to send your kids to a private school. The fact is that in the public schools they essentially teach to the dumbest kid in the class. They can’t afford to let the stupid kid completely fail out and leave him behind and outside of a few gifted and talented classes and those for the utterly remedial kids, most public schools don’t separate the kids based on ability levels. Private schools can afford to limit admissions to children that will be able to keep up with the curriculum. Plus, when your kid goes to a private school, particularly a prestigious one, he or she already has a built in network for the future and a better chance at getting into a good college.
The citizens of Finland are entitled to a free education all the way through to their graduation from university. The government pays for everything (and taxes their citizens a great deal to pay for everything, but that’s how these things work) and the benefits are seen throughout society. Finland is routinely near the top of the list of the happiest and most successful countries in the world and that’s directly related to the high level of education people receive.
After 16 the students graduate and can continue their education in a vocational style school (think something specialized like a mechanic or plumber) or they can go on to university for a broader education before specializing in something loftier. Either way they graduate with a great skill set and are ready to go out into the world and conquer with their smarts.
The increasing cost of higher school education in the United States is far outpacing inflation and at some point it’s going to become a serious enough problem that the country as a whole suffers. If you come out of school carrying $250,000 in debt that’s likely bigger than your first mortgage would be, which means you’re not going to be able to buy that house. In an economy that’s largely built on citizens buying houses and borrowing constantly against those houses that’s a problem.
The high cost of school education at the higher levels also means greater pressure to find a job that will pay down that cost. It means fewer people working in the public sector or for charities. It means more stress for those people that are seeking jobs, which means a lower happiness level across the board.
Getting a good education can have a staggering impact on your life and the higher you go the more of an impact it has. Sure, it takes another two years to get that masters degree or another four to become an MD or another three to become a lawyer but in the long run the impact it has on your overall quality of life is incredible. There are reams of data on the subject and they all point to the fact that getting a good school education and going as high as you can leads to a better life. With an education you’re given more opportunities. If you have a college degree suddenly you can get interviews for a wider range of jobs and you garner more respect from your fellow citizens. If you have a doctorate people respect you instantly. Plus, almost all higher education allows you to earn more money and that makes life easier.
What’s amazing is that there is a strong correlation between the years of education you’ve had and the happiness you experience in life. Happiness is a tough thing to gauge so the studies done on this subject address broad swaths of data across hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of people. The test they give is simple and really just asks if you feel happy.
However, it turns out that people with higher levels of education are in fact happier in the long term. Of course, that’s not due to some magical thing you’re given at college. It’s due to the benefits you’re given in life by having that education. You get a better job, which leads to more money, which leads to you living in a safer neighborhood and driving a safer car. Many of the stresses of life that can drag down your happiness are eliminated and thus your happiness goes up. It’s simple, really. Get that education and happiness can be yours.
Get ready for some crazy numbers. The U.S. Census Bureau has released numbers that confirm that reality that getting a higher education provides you with far more income. It costs a great deal to get a college degree at most universities but it sure is worth it over the long run. If school education stopped in high school the average salary is a meager $28,000 a year. If school education includes a bachelor’s degree that number jumps to just over $51,000 a year. If the school education includes an advanced degree (masters, law, etc) that number jumps again to $74,000.
The differences are staggering. Invest another six years in your education after college and you’ll earn another $50,000 a year, which would quickly pay off whatever loans you had to take to get that degree. Now you can put an actual number value on higher school education.
The one thing you never hear talked about with regards to the improvement of school education is the parents. The reason you never hear it talked about is that if politicians were to accuse parents of being bad at their jobs they would never win those votes again. That would be bad for the politicians so the biggest reason that education systems suck goes entirely unaddressed.
There are numerous studies that show with complete clarity the effect parental participation in a child’s education has on that child. They do better in school, they have a greater motivation to do better, and they end up with better grades. They end up with a better future. However, parents simply aren’t told this because it’s unpopular to be critical of someone raising a child. God forbid you tell someone that they’re forever handicapping their child by being irresponsible.