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Over a 40-year career, a college graduate earns $650,000 more than someone with some or no college, the Pew Research Foundation found. While there are some anomalies in the data, you’ll generally increase your lifetime income by finishing a degree. While this can be an enormous boon if you are raising a child, buying a house or planning to retire, it also can improve your daily life.

There are plenty of ways to get those last credits under your belt, including online education opportunities that adapt to your schedule. For instance, you can use a college locator like CollegeOnline to find learning opportunities in your area. If you stopped college before you finished your degree, here are five benefits that may motivate you to finish your education:

1. Higher marketability and better job retention rates.

The College Board’s Education Pays study revealed that college graduates have better job retention rates in a recession-related layoff than their peers who did not finish college. Even if a college graduate is laid off from work, she’ll have an easier time finding another job than a peer who does not have an undergraduate degree. If you faced tough times since the 2008 recession, getting a degree can increase your prospects of thriving through the next recession.

2. Improved self-esteem and confidence.

The Education Pays study also reported that college graduates are better equipped to handle difficult challenges and report more satisfaction when doing so. Over time, this can lead directly to more confidence on and off the clock, and higher rates of self-esteem.

3. Access to better jobs.

The desire to get out of a dead-end job can drive many adults to return to college to finish their degree. When you have a bachelor’s degree, you will qualify for more jobs within your organization and outside the organization. You can interview for better jobs, move up within your company and begin to derive a true satisfaction from what you do, day in and day out.

4. Expanded horizons.

A college degree often forces you to study subjects you might not otherwise have tackled, simply because you need to fulfill a requirement. This can broaden your perspective and offer you new ways to relate to colleagues, friends, family members and your community. If you’ve been putting off your plan to go back to school because you feel that you aren’t very good at math or writing, take heart. Studying these subjects as part of a degree requirement may have unexpected benefits. If you had stuck to a path that was more comfortable to you, you might not reap the benefits that would come from learning new things.

5. New friends and networks.

The connections many people make when in college can have a significant impact on their lives. So if you do decide to go back to school, get involved in the community or make friends with others who are in your classes. You can even connect with friends from online classes via LinkedIn, Facebook and other social networks. After college, your friend may be able to get you an interview (or a job) at her work. Without a college degree, you might not get a leg up on the sort of job you want.

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