College Is Worth It… for Women

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NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Plenty of Americans believe college doesn’t help students enough to justify the high cost of a four-year program, but a new study says one group is more likely to believe that they’re getting their money’s worth: college-educated women.

Just 40% of all Americans say the country’s higher education system provides an excellent or good value for the money spent, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center, but that number shifts dramatically based on gender. Exactly half of college-educated women said higher education was a good buy for students, whereas only 37% of men said so.

Pew surveyed more than 2,100 adults, a third of whom had at least earned a bachelor’s degree, and found that women consistently had a more favorable impression of the importance and the impact it had on their lives. For example, 81% of women surveyed said college was “very useful” for their intellectual growth, compared to two-thirds of men who said so.

Indeed, one thing that both genders seemed to agree on is that college is particularly important for women. More than three quarters of all those surveyed said college is necessary for women to get ahead, whereas 68% said it was necessary for men.

A separate report released earlier this month by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce supported this finding, concluding that women need to earn an extra degree on average to earn as much in their lifetime as a man in the same profession. In short, education is the key to overcoming the gender gap, which not only explains why women are more likely to see a greater value in higher education, but also why more women are enrolling in universities.

As Pew points out in the report, the number of women pursuing degrees has steadily increased during the previous four decades to the point where 53% of 18- to 24-year-olds currently enrolled in college are women, putting them firmly in the majority.

While their passion for higher education may help women finally overcome the gender gap as we know it, one can’t help but wonder whether men may come to experience an education gap if their doubts about the value of college persist.

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