“You can always go back.” It’s a pretty common reasoning for leaving, or in some cases not attending college. Sometimes the decision stems to chase other opportunities, and other times it’s to raise a family. Going back to college is an opportunity, that financial means considered, will always be available. If you’ve decided to finally take advantage of it, you’re one of many Americans making the move. And like most of them, you’re probably a little nervous. A healthy appreciation for the significance of what you’re doing is normal, but there is no need to get anxious.

In fact, there are a few recent statistics that should really ease your worries. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has been tracking college enrollment, degree attainment, and population growth with regards to employment in the United States for many years. Though the economic outlook has been rather bleak since 2008, the relationships between college degree holders, unemployment, and salary rates has really not changed very much recently and is rather encouraging for those considering a return to college.

Approximately 40% of the U.S. population between the ages of 25-64 hold Bachelor’s degrees or higher. That means 60% don’t. In times where jobs are not always plentiful, it can help to have a college degree distinction on your resume. In fact, jobs, degrees and unemployment have a lot more to do with each other than you might think.

The United States unemployment rate had always been a hot topic on news wires and political talk, but became even more of a broad-based issue when the U.S. housing economy collapsed. According to evidence supported by data from the BLS, the current unemployment rate increases substantially by descending degree attainment.

The BLS estimates an approximate 14% unemployment rate among those without high school diplomas; approximately 10% among those without college degrees; approximately 8% among those with Associate’s degrees, or some college; and just 4.1% among those with Bachelor’s degrees or higher.
If that’s not enough to ease your worries, consider this: the average weekly earnings of a Bachelor degree holder are nearly double that of a non-degree holder. Salaries tend to escalate with degree attainment, but simply attaining one can make a difference, even at the two-year level.

A high school graduate for example, makes on average $626 each week compared to $726 at the Associate’s degree level. $100 might sound negligible, but that is over $5000 after just one year. If you make the jump to a Bachelor’s program, you’re looking even better, with a median weekly salary of $1137.