The fact that college graduates earn more than those with only a high school diploma is well known. And if you're enrolled in one of Saint Leo's online degree programs, it's probably a key reason why you decided to go back to school.

Statistics from the Department of Labor show that, on average, college graduates earn 39 percent more annually than those with only a high school diploma: $55,432 vs. $33,904.

But as an adult learner, you may have wondered if delaying your education has negatively impacted your potential income? Will you somehow be less competitive than younger counterparts in the labor market because you are earning a college degree later in life?

A recent Gallup poll addressed that question and results can put the minds of adult students at ease.

Gallup surveyed nearly 4,000 nontraditional college graduates whose average age is now 45 years and 7,500 traditional graduates whose average age is 33 about their current incomes. The study indicated that despite delaying their college educations, older grads – those who earned their degree at age 25 or older – have comparable incomes to those of traditional graduates who earned their degrees before age 25.

"For any adult learner who has wondered if pursuing a college degree later in life is worth the investment, this is positive news," says Tonya Chestnut, Saint Leo's director of undergraduate admissions for online learning. "It's another reason why earning a college degree at any age and any at point in your career is a great decision."

More adults earning degrees

Statistics indicate that, in general, the number of adults heading back to school has risen dramatically in recent years.

According to the Gallup-Purdue Index, the percentage of adults earning college degrees has doubled since the 1970s climbing from 16 to 32 percent.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) states that the percentage increase in the number of students age 25 and over has been larger than the percentage increase in the number of younger students. Between 2000 and 2011, the enrollment of students under age 25 increased by 35 percent. Enrollment of students 25 and over rose 41 percent during the same period.

Better income not only reason for earning degree

Earning a better salary is an important reason why adults return to college, but it's not the only one. Students enrolled in Saint Leo online degree programs and alumni give numerous reasons.

After 25 years as a successful real estate professional, Theresa Malky enrolled in Saint Leo's online psychology degree program. It's her first step toward earning a doctorate. Her goal is to grow the not-for-profit she founded to bring healing to abused and abandoned children through equine-assisted therapy.

Alumnus Michael Hendricks earned an online accounting degree to expand his knowledge and become "a more complete individual."

A stay-at-home-mom while she completed an online degree in sociology, Gromyko Scott says that earning a degree was an important to her because she wanted to be an example for her three sons.

"I wanted to lead by example," she says. "It is also important because it will allow me to have more opportunities in life."

Why are you pursuing a college degree?

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Grads Share Secrets To Success In Online Degree Programs

Online Degree Programs | Popular Pathway To College

Online Degree Programs | Find The Right Fit For You

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