Studies show that a college degree could increase your shot at a happy marriage.
When you think of love and marriage, do images of cracking the school books and college grad gowns also come to mind? Well, maybe they should. That's because studies have shown that college-educated people are more likely to get - and stay - married than those with only a high school diploma.
Take a November 2010 nationwide survey by the Pew Research Center, in association with TIME on "The Decline of Marriage and Rise of New Families." It found that while in 1960 there was a 4 percent gap between college graduate marriage rates (76 percent) and those with only a high school diploma (72 percent), by 2008, that gap had increased four-fold, to 16 percent (64 percent versus 48 percent).
Wendy Manning, co-director of the National Center for Family & Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University, says a big part of that is the change in attitude toward women in the workforce. She says that marriage has always favored college-educated men, but what's new is that the trend is moving toward women as well.
"More highly educated women are more desirable than those who are not, because what it takes to have a middle class lifestyle is two folks earning an income. So I think we've seen a shift toward favoring women's education in marriage," she says.
And when college-educated couples do marry, they're less likely to get divorced, studies say. For instance, according to a 2012 report called "The State of Our Unions: Marriage in America," by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, those with a college education are 25 percent less likely to divorce or separate during the first 10 years of marriage than those with only a high school diploma.
Manning says there are probably many reasons for this, but one big one is the fact that there is a higher financial "bar" for marriage today.
"People are waiting till they're economically set to get married. So they're not going to get married as much in their early twenties as they were in the 1950s, where the average age of first marriage was around 20," she says. In today's marriage market, the average age for men is 29, and for women it's 27, she says.
This means, she says, that people are more stable in their lives and careers before entering marriage. That tends to result in less stress on the marriage - at least due to financial matters - and therefore less divorce, she says.
Which brings us to our final point: money. Simply put, married people, on average, have more of it, says Manning. Of course, it's sort of a chicken and egg dilemma. In other words, says Manning, as she's noted, these days, people are more likely to wait till they are more financially stable to get married in the first place.
"You're not a great catch if you can't afford to own a home or pay rent," she says.
Another factor might be that a college degree "attracts" marriage more now. Why? Because studies show that those with a college degree, on average, make far more money than those with only a high school diploma.
For instance, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, which looked at full-time workers over the age of 25, the average worker with a bachelor's degree made $414 more per week in 2012 than one with only a high school diploma. That's $21,500 more per year.
And that can mean a very romantic honeymoon.
Degrees Made for Marriage
No, these aren't college degrees in the art and science of love, but ones that could lead to careers with a very attractive salary - which, as we've seen, might be more conducive to a happy marriage.
Degree #1: Computer Science
If your romantic side has a bit of a techie side, you may love a computer science degree. If you do choose to pursue this degree, you'll likely study how to make computers and computer software, programming, and the theory and design of software, says the College Board, a nonprofit research organization that promotes higher education.
Possible Career: Applications Software Developer
These creative sorts design all those cool apps for everything from your computer to your smart phone, says the U.S. Department of Labor.
Potential Pay: The Department says the median annual pay of applications software developers is $90,060, with the bottom and top 10 percent making an annual median of $55,190 and $138,880 respectively.*
Degree #2: Accounting
Not a super romantic major, we know. But you will learn to do more than number-crunch. According to the College Board, accounting majors not only learn how to gather, record, and analyze financial data, they develop the skills to communicate financial performance and risks with others. Okay, still not romantic, but still...
Possible Career: Accountant
Accountants examine and prepare financial documents, taxes, and help organizations run efficiently, says the U.S. Department of Labor.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Accounting Program.
Potential Pay: The Department says the median annual pay of accountants is $63,550, with the bottom and top 10 percent making an annual median of $39,930 and $111,510 respectively.*
Degree #3: Marketing
If learning about how to generate buzz for products or services sounds attractive to you, this major might be a match made in heaven. According to the College Board, marketing majors learn how to create and sell products and build loyal customers.
Possible Career: Market Research Analyst
These professionals help companies determine what products and services people want, and what they'll pay for them, says the U.S. Department of Labor.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Marketing Program.
Potential Pay: The Department says the median annual pay of market research analysts is $60,300, with the bottom and top 10 percent making an annual median of $33,280 and $113,500 respectively.*
Degree #4: Health Care Administration
Love the idea of making sure people get good health care? A degree in health care administration might be a good fit. According to the College Board, if you choose this major, you'll learn all facets of overseeing health care facilities.
Possible Career: Health Services Manager
These executives plan, direct, and oversee entire medical facilities, medical departments, large and small clinics, and doctors' practices alike, says the U.S. Department of Labor.
Potential Pay: The Department says the median annual pay of health services managers is $88,580, with the bottom and top 10 percent making an annual median of $53,940 and $150,560 respectively.*
Degree #5: Finance
If following the stock market and watching Wall Street makes your heart go aflutter, finance might be the major for you. Study finance and you'll learn about everything from raising funds and making wise investments, to controlling costs and more, says the College Board.
Possible Career: Financial Analyst
These professionals assess the strengths of stocks, bonds, and other financial instruments so they can help people and businesses make investment decisions, says the U.S. Department of Labor.
Next step: Click to Find the Right Finance Program.
Potential Pay: The Department says the median annual pay of accountants is $76,950, with the bottom and top 10 percent making an annual median of $47,130 and $148,430 respectively.*