“Why go to college?” You have probably asked yourself this question at one time or another. Maybe you are right now.
After looking at the growing price tag of most college degrees and the time it takes to earn them, it’s not surprising that you would ask questions like:
- “Why should I go to college? Is a college degree a good return on investment and will I be able to pay back my student debt?”
- “Will the time and effort I invest in a college degree be worth it?”
- “Is college that important? What will college teach me that I can’t learn from my job or my everyday life?”
Quick answers to those questions: “Yes, Yes, and Lots.”
In a recent poll by College Board/National JournalNext America,
“Ninety percent of those who pursued higher education immediately after high school said they would do so again—while a majority of those who moved from high school directly into the workforce said that if they could reconsider their choice today, they would instead seek more education.”
Going to college will open doors to increased salary potential, greater career options, and better chances for personal and professional growth that you just can’t get any other way. As a college student, you’ll get to experience new areas of interest, expand your vision of possibilities, develop new friendships and networking connections, establish and accomplish difficult goals, push yourself, and define yourself in ways that you cannot imagine.
So, why is college important? Let’s get to the data and statistics shall we?
8 Reasons Why You Should Go To College
- Increased Salary
- More Competitive = Better Job Options
- Greater Job Security
- Better Living Situations
- Get Acccess to Career-Track Jobs
- Larger Social Network
- Larger Professional Network
- Be a Postive Influence on Your Kids and Future Generations
What things should you think about when considering college? Find out, here.
1. Increased Salary
The Bureau of Labor Statistics research found that, on average, college graduates with a bachelor’s degree typically earn up to 40% more per year than those with a high school diploma or its equivalent and almost 30% more than those with an associate degree. When we compare national median annual earnings of someone with a bachelor’s and someone with a high school diploma, that’s a difference of almost $24,000 each year in expected gross income.
According to The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, those who only finish high school are anticipated to earn about $1.3 million over their lifetime, some college to earn about $1.6 million. An associate degree holder may earn around $1.7 million and a bachelor’s degree holder, about $2.3 million. Add more college to earn an advanced degree and that could increase to about $2.7 million to $3.6 million.
2. More Competitive = Better Job Options
You can increase your job options simply by earning a college degree. About 32% of jobs in the U.S. require an associate or bachelor’s degree and an additional 14% require a master’s or professional degree. By earning a degree, you automatically give yourself the opportunity to apply for the 46% of U.S. jobs that now require a secondary degree.
3. Greater Job Security
According to employment projections released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, having an associate degree suggests that you will be 30% less likely to be unemployed. By earning a bachelor’s or master’s, this same data says that you will be 48-56% less likely to be unemployed.
4. Better Living Situations
According to a study done on Millennials Ages 25-32, PewResearchCenter Social Trends found that almost 22% of those with a high school diploma as their highest level of education live in poverty. Only 15% of those with an associate degree and 6% of those with a bachelor’s degree live in poverty.
5. Get Access to Career-Track Jobs
A recent Pew Research Center survey shows 86% of employed adults ages 25 to 32 with a bachelor’s degree or higher felt they were in a career or career-track job.
When considering why you should go to college, it’s worth imagining what your life is going to be 10, 20, or even 30 years down the road. What do you want your future to look like? Attending college will help you figure out a realistic plan for accomplishing your goals. It will also prepare you with the knowledge and skills you’ll need to progress in your chosen career field.
6. Larger Social Network
Attending college isn’t just about studying and attending lectures – it will also give you the chance to discover activities you’ve never tried before, meet people from different backgrounds and parts of the world, support causes that are important to you, and explore new ideas, art forms, and cultures. The benefit of learning from your fellow students is also very valuable – the discussions you get into when you’re surrounded by people studying different subjects and pursuing different paths will give you new ways to look at the world around you.
7. Larger Professional Network
Attending a good college gives you the chance to make friends and connections, opening doors for your future career. Just how important is networking? According to Matt Youngquist, the president of Career Horizons:
“Most jobs aren’t posted or advertised publicly…. At least 70 percent, if not 80 percent, of jobs are not published… And yet most people — they are spending 70 or 80 percent of their time surfing the net versus getting out there, talking to employers, taking some chances [and] realizing that the vast majority of hiring is friends and acquaintances hiring other trusted friends and acquaintances.”
It’s never too early to get started networking and you’re more likely to get career help and advice from alumni and other professional contacts while you’re still a student. You’ll also have the opportunity to apply for internships or join professional groups and organizations that may be more available to you as a student or alumni. If you make connections while you’re in college, you’ll find that you have a great collection of friends and professional contacts to help when you’re searching for a job.
8. Be a Postive Influence on Your Kids and Future Generations
You may not have kids and they may not be in your picture for another 5-10 years. But, whether you have your own children, have nieces or nephews, or you just want to be a good example for future generations, getting your college degree will help.
A recent poll by College Board/National JournalNext America found that a parent’s educational attainment and attitude toward education is now a stronger indicator of a child’s educational attainment than parent’s income; parent’s income used to be the highest predictor of a child’s educational achievements.
Just under 60% of those with no-degree families reported finishing college, compared with almost 70% of those from families with two- and one-degrees. Additionally, 55% of children from two-degree families reported earning a college or postgraduate degree, whereas only 23% of children from no-degree families reported earning a degree.
Things to Remember When Thinking About College
Just Get Started and Be Flexible
Keeping your options open is recommended and is very helpful. As many successful graduates will tell you, the best-laid plans often give way to more exciting opportunities, and sometimes starting down a path will give you a much clearer idea of what you want to do in the future, even if you end up diverting from that path.
Some individuals who search for reasons to go to college simply suffer from commitment phobia. Don’t look at college as a long-term contract that you’re not going to be able to get out of once you start. And don’t feel like you need to decide on a major area of study before starting college.
College is a time for you to test yourself, explore your interests, see what the possibilities are, and to see what you can achieve. And don’t worry, you’re not alone. Most other students attending college are going to be in the exact same boat you’re in.
There are also a variety of resources, provided by most universities, to help you through college, including academic advisors, professors accessible on campus, tutoring academic support, full-time counseling staff, and more.
It’s also a great idea to gain some work experience both before and during your college degree. According to the Pew Research Center, 50% of graduates regret not taking advantage of more work experience opportunities at college, whereas only 29% wish they’d picked a different major.
While the prospect of attending college may seem daunting, even suffocating, don’t forget that you still can live your life and make it an exciting one.
You’ll be able to participate in a variety of extracurricular activities, join social groups, maintain a job, or even pursue a career while completing your studies. You may even find that college ends up being much more enjoyable and fulfilling than you expected.
Deciding Which College is Best for You
Sometimes when students wonder, “why should I go to college,” they are actually just nervous about picking the right college or the right college major for them. There isn’t necessarily a “best” college or major. Each college and study area offers a different experience and unique educational opportunities.
Your task shouldn’t be to identify the top-ranked colleges but rather to figure out which college is best for you, based on the areas of study you are interested in. Your choice of college will depend on your personal and career interests, occupational goals as well as past academic record. If you’re still in high school you should talk with your high school counselor about your options.
Consider attending any open houses provided by local colleges in your area, use the Internet to research colleges that fit your expectations and requirements, and contact individual colleges to speak with their guidance and admission counselors.
Sometimes larger, prestigious or “Ivy League” type universities can seem very attractive. However, you may discover (hopefully sooner rather than later) that you prefer a smaller, less prestigious, community, or church-affiliated college. Bigger isn’t necessarily better, especially when it comes to a college education.
When considering reasons to go to college and where you want to go, think about the environments you are most comfortable in. There are a large variety of smaller colleges and community colleges that can provide you an excellent education without the big school feel.
The only way to really find out what you want is to take the time to visit each college campus, take an organized campus tour, meet people and teachers if you can, sit in on a lecture or two, and experience the atmosphere.
You’ll get the most out of your college experience if you take the time now to investigate your options and stay open to any possibilities.
It’s also important to know that earning a degree from an Ivy League school or private college can be very expensive and there is no guarantee that you’ll get a great job once you get your degree.
In fact, there is typically only a marginal difference in future earnings for those who earn their degree at an Ivy League school versus those who earn their degree from another reputable college.
Having Trouble Affording College? Consider Financial Aid
Where there’s a will there’s a way. If you’re really interested in attending college but don’t have the funds right now don’t get overly concerned. There are several ways to finance your college education.
Financial aid programs include scholarships, grants, student loans and prepaid tuition. At many larger colleges and universities, you’ll also find on-campus jobs that offer flexible schedules to accommodate your personal life and studies.
With so many ways to finance your education, instead of wondering “Why should I go to college?”, the question becomes — “Why shouldn’t I?”
Compare, Ponder, Decide, and Maintain Realistic Expectations
As with any major decision, you’ll want to consider all of your options. Compare costs, living and learning environments, and the overall benefits of attending one college over another.
Consider what things are most important on your list of needs and wants and which school can provide the greatest number of them.
As you make plans for your future, be sure to spend some time thinking and writing about what it is you want to do with your life. What do you wish to accomplish long-term? What are your career and future family goals?
Once you start college, have kind and realistic expectations of yourself. You won’t be a perfect student and your college experience won’t be perfect. It can, however, be extremely worthwhile and life-changing.
While college does not guarantee happiness or success, it can open up doors and help create opportunities and options for your future.
- NCES – programs
- The Atlantic – Are College Degrees Inherited?
- Pew Social Trends – The Rising Cost of Not Going to College
- NPR – Networking Helps Find Jobs
- BLS.gov – Chart
- BLS.gov – Table
- BLS.gov – National Education Facts
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