Going Back to School at 50: Little Known Benefits of a College Education

Whether it’s improving your financial health or looking to stay mentally sharp, there are several benefits to going back to school at age 50 or later to see post-secondary education. However, many individuals are unaware of the research indicating the benefits of attaining a higher education degree.

Increased Life Span

Several studies indicate that college degree holders not only tend to live longer, but they’re also able to share additional benefits of higher education with their families and those closest to them. According to a study published in Health Affairs, the life expectancy for men with a bachelor’s degree was 12.9 years higher than those with less education. For women, the life expectancy for bachelor’s degree holders was 10.4 years higher than those without a degree.

There is a correlation between earning a degree and health-driven decisions. Adults with higher levels of education are more likely to exhibit healthy lifestyle behaviors and make healthy life choices. They’re also less likely to have unhealthy habits, like smoking and excessive drinking.

There is also a financial component to this longevity. Those with higher incomes and higher education are more likely to have the time and finances to engage in regular physical activity. They’ll also have the capacity to afford healthcare expenses. Additionally, they’ll have access to easy transportation to healthcare facilities and work locations. Finally, they’ll also have the resources to buy healthy foods for themselves and their families.

Experience a Positive Impact on Mental & Physical Health

Mental health has become a major issue lately, and many individuals are looking for ways to improve their mental health. Education has shown to have a positive impact on mental health by developing individuals socially, emotionally, and intellectually.

The health benefits of education include enhancing a sense of personal control, which in turn encourages and enables a healthy lifestyle. Conversely, the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) states a person is unhealthy if they lack basic knowledge, the ability to reason, emotional capacities of emotional regulation and self-awareness, and social interaction skills.

Education is integral to being healthy because it teaches a person to use their mind through various mental exercises, such as learning, problem-solving, thinking, and reasoning. This is important because it’s also been shown that a lack of education can have negative physical ramifications. Studies indicate adults with lower educational rates have higher rates of circulatory diseases, liver disease, diabetes, and psychological symptoms including sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness.

Higher education also has a positive correlation to various behavioral tendencies. Adults with a higher education level have less exposure to stress related to economic deprivation. They’re also less likely to adopt unhealthy coping behaviors.

Enjoy Financial Benefits

One of the most compelling reasons to go back to school at age 50 or later is to improve your financial health. There’s a wide range of data that demonstrates the impact higher education can have on lifetime earnings and unemployment.

A lack of adequate education increases the risk of unemployment, which could compound with an aging demographic. In 2016, the national unemployment rate was 4%. However, the rate was 7.4% for those with less than a high school diploma, while those with at least an associate degree faced an unemployment rate of 3.6%. Those with a doctorate only had a 1.6% unemployment rate.

Additionally, the typical median weekly earnings across all educational demographics in 2016 was $885 a week. Yet those with less than a high school diploma earned a weekly median wage of $504. Those with a bachelor’s degree saw a median weekly wage of $1,156, and professional degree-holders earned a median weekly wage of $1,745.

Possessing advanced degrees can open job opportunities that offer incentives such as health insurance coverage. Additionally, the Brookings Institution indicates that a post-secondary degree can serve as a buffer against unemployment during economic downturns.

There is no question that research supports pursuing a higher education. The potential value of the degree goes beyond finances, and has direct correlations to physical, mental, and emotional health. Plus, you can share the benefits of a higher education with your family and those closest to you.

To learn more, check out the infographic below created by Maryville University.


How going back to college at age 50 or older can yield several financial and health-related benefits.

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