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We are only at the beginning of the 21st century and already we are beginning to witness possible trends in what the future of this century holds. Clearly, technology is going to play a huge part in our future, particularly the development of nano-technology and further advancements in artificial intelligence. What this means for family structures and financial stability is unclear, but it seems almost certain that as we move into a new 21st century economy that is based on the processing of information and the direct application of artificial intelligence, the jobs that were once integral to the industrial revolution are under threat, and will likely not exist within just a few decades from today, if not even sooner.

Coping with an Uncertain Future

Coping with an Uncertain Future

For many people, this global uncertainty about employment opportunities has led to disillusionment with new technologies as they withdraw to a more sentimental and nostalgic past. But the transition to a future where jobs and growth are largely dependent on dwindling natural resources and the capacity of business to employ staff that is highly skilled in areas of knowledge that our children are now coming to grips with seems inevitable. One must either embrace this change wholeheartedly and seek the best path forward, or simply remain stuck in a past that is fast disappearing.

What does seem absolutely clear is that no matter what the future holds in terms of social capital, employment, and economic growth, higher education will play a primary role in driving it forward. What this means is that in order to take advantage of the jobs of today and the near future, one must embrace what higher education has to offer, including a college degree, an associates degree, or one of many specificalized certifications.

Many will certainly find this hard to believe because they have all but given up on higher education as a path to increased opportunities due to spiraling student debt and what they perceive as the irrelevance of higher education to everyday life. While it is true that as of 2014, student debt in the U.S. topped one trillion dollars – a mammoth figure by any standards – it is also true that the pay difference between college graduates with an associates degree or other qualification and those without one is stark. The truth is that workers with more education simply make more per hour than those who do not. This means that higher education is still the best plan to setting up your financial future and warding off the economic uncertainty that goes with globalization and volatile economic conditions.

The Benefits of a Higher Education

Even though a higher education is statistically better for people than not having one, it is still an unfortunate fact that there are simply not enough college graduates in the workforce. In part, this has to do with the level of student debt, but it is also due to the perception that higher education is not useful. Once a person is locked into this perception, it is difficult to change. This is why the path to higher education really starts in the early childhood years where perceptions of the world are formed. By making education a priority early in life, parents are better able to nurture a worldview that sees higher education as the key to unlocking doors in life. But what are the specific advantages of a higher education? Consider the following:

     Money: As mentioned earlier, those with an associates degree or another high level of education earn up to four times more per hour than those who do not. As startling as this statistic seems, we should not be surprised that higher levels of education translate to more money in the workplace since those who achieve more should be rewarded accordingly.

     Satisfaction: Earning more at work will certainly lead to a greater level of personal satisfaction, security, and happiness, but education also provides a more rounded view of the world and provides greater mental and intellectual nourishment. This leads to an inner life that is more fulfilled.

     Opportunity: By obtaining a higher level of education, more employment opportunities open up. Opportunity nurtures participation in a society that values productivity and higher levels of education. This has a positive effect in terms of personal happiness, confidence, self-esteem, and a sense of achievement.

Despite student debt and concerns that higher education institutions are out of touch with everyday reality, earning a college degree, an associates degree or other higher level of education is the key to enjoying opportunity, personal happiness, and a more secure future.