Honoring Our Mothers by Seeking Higher EducationMay 03, 2022 08:30AM ● By Dr. Susan R. Madsen
As Mother’s Day approaches, we often consider the sacrifices our mothers and grandmothers have made on our behalf. They want the best for us. One unique way to honor them as daughters and granddaughters is to pursue and complete college degrees. Interestingly, research has shown that women who obtain a college education enjoy greater happiness and quality of life.
Although Utah’s higher education gender gap is smaller than it has been in the past at the undergraduate levels, there is still work to do. Utah women’s college graduation rates are not increasing as fast as our birth rates. This leaves Utah women academically behind.
Reasons for this discrepancy might include some Utah women seeing their role as homemakers, the time commitment, expense, and mental and physical sacrifice. However, higher education benefits extend well beyond a paycheck.
Utah Women & Leadership Project research shows positive benefits of earning a bachelor’s or higher degree for women including:
- Health improvements include lower levels of obesity, cholesterol, depression, and alcohol abuse. Educated women experience increased overall life expectancy.
- Along with financial benefits, graduates have better health care, higher incomes, and less unemployment.
- They possess strong teamwork and interpersonal skills, the ability to integrate ideas and concepts, higher critical thinking skills, and make stronger decisions.
- Parenting skills are enhanced by higher education. Educated women give birth to healthier babies, read more to their children, and live healthier family lifestyles.
- Studies show women graduates are also more engaged in civic and community activities, and more likely to vote, donate blood, volunteer, and run for public office.
For women who believe education won’t add to their level of quality of life, I ask you to consider the example you will set for your children by achieving that goal, even if you choose not to be employed. Children of women with a college degree are more likely to pursue higher education themselves. In Utah, a woman might believe she has only two choices—to raise a family or pursue a college education. Yet, these two, worthy aspirations do not need to be mutually exclusive. A college graduate can pursue a career, run for public office, volunteer in her community, and raise a family. Additionally, there are many options available for women pursuing certificates (some free), associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, or even graduate degrees. In fact, a student in Utah can even obtain a degree without stepping onto a college campus.
As Mother’s Day approaches this year, think about honoring the women in your life by completing your own college degree—no matter your age—and encouraging others to do the same. Education matters for everyone.
Dr. Susan R. Madsen is the Karen Haight Huntsman Endowed Professor of Leadership in the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University and the founding director of the Utah Women & Leadership Project.