Parent Essay Contest Winners

Parent Essay Contest Winners

Write a 300 – 500 word essay describing “Why education is life’s most valuable investment?”.

1st Place: Education is Always With You

Rhonda Altman from CONNECTICUT

Education is life’s most valuable investment because you will never lose it in a fire, it can never be stolen from you, and it can only benefit you in the future. When I finished High School, I was offered a local job with a salary that I could hardly refuse. Although I had been accepted into to college, taking the job seemed like the right choice. I’d be able to afford my own apartment, my groceries, and a car. Before I signed the contract I decided to ask my parents and my friends for their opinion and advice. Their opinions were equally split between taking the job and going to college. I knew it would be the toughest decision. My father, who I’ve barely had a relationship with, gave me the most honest, and best advice that any daughter could receive. He told me that when I spend money on a house, a car, and on assets, their values may only decrease. They’re inanimate objects which little to no sentimental value. Education, however, is priceless. Almost like the gift that keeps on giving. Going to school exercises your mind. Knowledge has a value above and beyond any value of the goods I may own. Having an education can give you not only the knowledge to success in the workforce, but it matures your mind to handle life’s greatest difficulties. I’m thankful for not signing my life away the day I ended high school. Going to school helped me learn what I want to spend the rest of my life doing. I’ve decided to be an elementary school teacher. By teaching children, I will be able to share my knowledge and my values to younger generations. Children need guidance from patient and caring individuals and I’m prepared to devote my life to these kids.

2nd Place: Education Leads to Wealth, Health and Happiness

Victoria Franzese from NEW YORK

Study after study shows that, on average, well-educated people are wealthier, healthier, and even happier than their less-educated counterparts.  It makes sense, then, that education has become life’s most valuable investment.  Throughout the world, sending children to school is a proven way to help them overcome poverty, improve their nutrition, and raise their self-confidence.

Let’s look at the issue of wealth first.  A recent study David Leonhardt  described in The New York Times demonstrates clearly that college graduates make more money than people with only a high school diploma throughout their lives, even if they go on to hold jobs that don’t require a college degree.  Furthermore, even in this current recession, they are less likely to be unemployed.  And although rising tuition rates have made headlines, analysis by The Hamilton Project indicates that a $102,000 investment in a four-year college (including opportunity costs as well as tuition and other out-of-pocket costs) “yields a rate of return of 15.2 percent per year—more than double the average return over the last 60 years experienced in the stock market (6.8 percent), and more than five times the return to investments in corporate bonds (2.9 percent), gold (2.3 percent), long-term government bonds (2.2 percent), or housing (0.4 percent).”  But even an investment in basic education makes a difference:  illiteracy is closely tied to poverty throughout the world so once the literacy rate in a nation improves, the GDP generally does, too.

Improvements to health are closely tied to income levels.  This makes sense: people with more money generally can provide themselves with better nutrition and better healthcare.  And people who are better educated are also better at following doctor’s instructions, adapting to a healthy lifestyle, and avoiding risky behavior that would otherwise threaten their well-being.

In general, if you are rich and healthy, you are more likely to be satisfied with your life than if you are poor and sick – and on that basis alone, an investment in education is valuable.  But education also provides intangibles that improve the quality of our lives.  Mastering skills leads to self-confidence.  Learning about the world outside our immediate community helps open our eyes to a variety of choices.  Studying the past can help us imagine a different future.  Becoming fluent in another language helps us connect with other cultures.  The wonders of science open our minds to all kinds of possibilities.  And exposure to art, music, and literature brings joy to our hearts.  It is these intangibles, I believe, that provide the real payback of a good education.

Investing in education does more than just improve the mind.   Education’s strong correlation to a better income means that education also improves the body.  And because of education’s intangible benefits, it also improves one’s chances of happiness.  So to my way of thinking, an investment in education is truly an investment that covers one’s mind, body and (for lack of a better word) soul.  Truly, it is an investment worth making.

3rd Place: The importance of an education

Jennifer Ontko from OHIO

Those who advocate for greater investment in education often make the economic argument: more education leads to higher wages and is critical for financial stability and independence. They’re right. Robust evidence supports the view that higher levels of educational attainment are linked to higher incomes, less unemployment, less poverty, and less reliance on public assistance. Education is important for better paying jobs and more financial stability but that is not the only thing. I have learned that education also is linked to better physical and mental health, longer lives, fewer crimes, less incarceration, more voting, greater tolerance, and brighter prospects for the next generation. According to United Way and the American Human Development Project, the more education people have, the longer they live. Infants born to less-educated mothers are more likely to have low birthweight, which is associated with developmental delays and infant death. A one-year increase in the average level of schooling in a community is associated with a 30 percent decrease in the murder rate. Obesity has increased among all Americans, yet the more educated are less likely to be overweight or obese. The less education a person has, the more likely he or she is to be unemployed. A high school dropout is four times more likely to be unemployed than a college graduate. Nearly three-quarters of state inmates did not complete high school; fewer than three percent completed college or more. Education is the single most important factor in the determination of a person’s poverty status: almost 24 percent of the adult population without a high school diploma is poor, compared to 11 percent of those who are high school graduates and only 3.6 percent of college graduates. Obviously education does a lot of wonderful things and that it why it is so important to be educated. Education is definitely life’s most valuable investment.

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