Why Making Education Your New Year's Resolution Is A Smart Decision

Getting a higher level of education is one of the more popular New Year's resolutions, but making the resolution stick can be difficult

By Neil Johnson
Posted 2012

New Year's Resolution Tips
New Year's Resolution Tips

Heralding a new year with vows to improve your life is a practice that actually stretches back to antiquity.

Though the New Year’s Day we celebrate on Jan. 1 was set by the Roman calendar, some historians believe the idea of marking a new year with resolutions started 4,000 with the Babylonians, who celebrated their new year after the vernal equinox, according to History.com.

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Their idea of resolutions, however, seemed to center around returning borrowed farm equipment and paying debts.

The idea of using a new year to embark on self-improvement has lingered 40 centuries. Statisticbrain.com, citing a report by the University of Scranton’s Journal of Clinical Psychology, said 45% of us frequently resolve to be better in some way when the calendar turns to the next year. We vow to lose weight (the top resolution) or become more organized (the second most common) or be wiser with our money by saving more or spending less (the third most common).

Education Among the Most Popular New Year's Resolutions

Resolutions of self-improvement related to education are actually the most common general category of New Year’s Day vows, at 47%, the report said.

When it comes to improving yourself, resolving to go back to school and following through with it can provide a lot of benefits - ones that can last longer than an attempt to become organized.

One of the main benefits of finishing your college degree is a bigger paycheck. People with a bachelor’s degree earn about 50% more than those with a high school diploma, and 22% more than those with an associate’s degree, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Returning for a graduate degree can also pay substantial dividends. The center found workers with a master’s degree out-earned those with a bachelor’s degree by 21%.

Those numbers are for people with jobs. Returning to school can also improve your chance of getting work.

A report from the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University on the recession’s impact on high school graduates showed only 30% of high school graduates have a full-time job compared to about twice that percentage for college graduates.

Using a Degree to Launch a New Career

Completing a degree or getting a new one can also launch another career or snag a significant promotion at your current job.

Promotion to a management or supervisory job in many fields is becoming more dependent on an advanced degree such as an MBA that can open jobs such as financial officer, HR director or healthcare administrator.

In nursing, an increasing number of employers want nurses who stepped beyond an RN to get a bachelor’s of nursing.

In the field of education, the median salary for principals is more than $30,000 higher than a high school teacher’s pay, but moving from the classroom to administration usually requires a graduate degree.

Tips for Sticking With a New Year’s Resolution

Unfortunately, the University of Scranton journal also found 49% of those making resolutions rated their success as infrequent while 24% reported no success at all.

But as a resolution, returning to school allows you to take some steps that are outlined in an article on Forbes.com to avoid being among those 49%.

One reason resolutions flounder is a failure to plan and see obstacles to overcome, the article said. Well, it’s impossible to return to school without planning for it. You can see problems such as scheduling and financing and find ways around them.

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Another reason for failure revolves on making resolutions in which you take on too much burden. With education, a student can set their own course load and study requirements, especially with online classes.

And a third reason for failure is not being accountable, the article said. But if you want to pass the course or get the degree, your instructors will hold you highly accountable.

Also, failure can come from a resolution that wasn’t important, the article said. But improving your career, paycheck or making yourself happier and more secure are all hard to top for importance.

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