By: Tom Goulding

Before he broke the record for most 3-pointers made in the NBA, became a Finals Most Valuable Player and completely revolutionized how basketball was played, Stephen Curry was an undergrad student-athlete for Davidson College. After making a Cinderella run in 2008 as a sophomore and continuing to produce the shooting and scoring that we would eventually grow accustomed to, Curry decided to forego his senior year to play professionally. After electrifying NCAA basketball with his sharpshooting and scoring ability, Curry was drafted by the Golden State Warriors. He would then lead Golden State to four championships, including this last June.

But after 13 years, it was time to return and finish his degree.

When he originally left Davidson to pursue basketball professionally, Curry knew he would return someday. Before he left North Carolina for the Bay Area, Steph made a promise to his mother, Sonja, and his coach, Bob McKillop, that he would return and complete his degree one day – no matter what.

Once he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in Sociology, Steph was welcomed into Davidson’s Hall of Fame. It even led to Davidson retiring his jersey number, meaning that no other player will ever wear that number again. This is the first time this has happened in Davidson’s history.

“That speaks to how much this place means to me,” Curry said in Davidson’s ‘Curry for 3’ event this summer. “It was one of the hardest decisions I ever had to make. I didn’t think it would take 13 years but here we are. I’m a graduate, I’m a Davidson alum and a Hall of Famer!”

It’s never too late to become more educated. Steph may be a professional athlete, but there are several lessons anyone can take away from his decade-long journey to complete his undergrad.

Here are a few reasons why getting your degree is a good idea.

Career opportunities open up

When you have a degree, your earning power goes up. With a bachelor’s degree in particular, you can expect to earn around $520 more a week than someone who only has a high school diploma. That really opens up your income stream, and based on that additional $520 a week, can result in a $27k increase over a year.

As more employers are asking for bachelor’s degrees from applicants, Hanover Research determines that a vast majority of employers (nine out of ten) believe that a degree is well worth the investment.

Your understanding of and satisfaction with life increases

College is a place where you can learn to learn. Before you call me Captain Obvious, allow me to explain. You will learn plenty about your chosen field, enter internships and network with plenty of prospective employers while enrolled, but you will also have the opportunity to build friendships and mentorships with people who matter. The friends you make in college are likely the ones you will remain the closest to as the years go by. Good friends can be hard to find, and college is a great place to meet new ones.

But not only will you learn to learn and make friends, you’re likely to find a sense of identity in whatever career field you choose.

Steph Curry is a professional athlete — he chose to return to and complete his degree to fulfill his word to two people who mattered very much to him, but also because he felt he should. If you’re returning to complete your degree, UCR University Extension’s Degree Completion program helps you achieve the satisfaction that comes with building up your qualifications. And if you’re just starting your degree, know that it is a worthwhile investment, not just for the people around you but most importantly for yourself. It's an accomplishment that can really boost your satisfaction in life and that is always worthwhile.