Student-centric advice and objective recommendations
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Top Reasons to Go to College
At this point, it’s no secret that a college education can be the ticket to a stable career and a higher income over a lifetime. Despite the rising cost of tuition, many find that going to college and earning a degree is still very much worth it. There are a variety of reasons to go to college, which we’ll explore below.
Earn more money
Perhaps the biggest reason to go to college is to increase your future earnings potential. Many people consider college an investment in their future. While you may have to take out student loans to pay for your education, in the long run you’ll likely end up making more money. According to a study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual earnings of bachelor’s degree holders is $60,996. Meanwhile, the median annual earnings of high school graduates with no college education is $37,024.
Learn more: What is the average starting salary out of college?
Achieve job security
Not only are you more likely to land a higher-paying job with a college education, but you’re more likely to keep that job as well. Trends have consistently shown that your chances of being unemployed decrease as you attain more education. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the March 2021 unemployment rate for individuals with a bachelor’s degree or higher was 3.7%. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for high school graduates with no college education was 6.7%. While there are no guarantees, a college education greatly increases your odds of gaining steady employment.
This was particularly evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for people with a high school degree or less was over double that of people with a bachelor’s degree or more.
Get better benefits
It’s easy to get caught up in the conversation surrounding the annual salary of college graduates, but let’s not overlook benefits. One of the perks of a college education is that you’re more likely to obtain a job with a competitive benefits package. This can include more vacation time, better healthcare options, and retirement investment options. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that college graduates have a 74.5% chance of being offered healthcare by their employer. Meanwhile, individuals with a high school education or less have a 53.3% chance.
Explore potential career paths
You don’t have to decide on a career path prior to attending college. In fact, many people go into college not knowing what they’d like to pursue. Many four-year colleges don’t require students to declare a major until their second year, and even then you can still switch your major. This gives students a chance to study a variety of subjects and explore several potential career paths. This is particularly true of liberal arts programs. So if you’re not sure about which line of work you’d like to pursue, college can be a great place to figure it out.
Expand your career options
Let’s say you go to college, earn a degree, and still can’t decide on a career path by the time you graduate. That’s okay! If you have a bachelor’s degree, it’s likely you have a multitude of career options available. No matter what you major in, having a college degree opens doors in the job market that would otherwise be closed. Oftentimes, employers care more about the fact that you have a degree than what you actually studied in college. This leaves room for a lot of flexibility when establishing yourself in the professional world.
Learn valuable skills
The reason why college graduates have so many career options is because they learn valuable skills that are applicable to a variety of fields. Through coursework and extracurricular activities, college students pick up skills in communication, organization, self-discipline, leadership, and commitment. These are all traits that companies look for in potential employees. Along with increasing your employability, learning these skills will help you become a well-rounded adult and prepare you for life after graduation.
Speaking of skills that are essential in the adult world, let’s not forget independence. For many people, college is the first time they’ve lived away from home for an extended period of time. This is a valuable time to learn how to maintain a budget, cook for yourself, take care of your living space, and handle a variety of other things you may not have encountered before. As a result, hopefully you’ll gain a sense of how to live independently and responsibly following graduation.
Make lasting connections
College is a great place to make professional connections that can prove very useful in the job market. Oftentimes, the relationships you create with faculty and classmates during college can help you land a job after graduation. According to a 2015 study by Pew Research Center, 45% of recent job seekers indicated that personal or professional contacts were the most important resource they utilized in their last search for employment.
And of course, professional connections aren’t the only relationships you will create during college. The friendships you form during your college years are very strong and can last a lifetime. And who knows? You may even meet your future spouse in college. According to a Facebook study, around 28% of married couples meet in college.
Things to consider
As you can tell, getting a college education can be beneficial in so many different ways. But that doesn’t change the fact that college is a big commitment that requires a lot of time, energy, and money. Before you make your decision about going to college, ask yourself these questions:
Is this your decision?
There’s a lot of pressure on high school students to attend college immediately after graduation. A lot of high schoolers feel like a college education is their only option, but this isn’t true. If you’re not convinced that college is the right path for you, check out these alternatives to college.
Take the time to slow down and think about what you really want. You shouldn’t go to college just because you feel pressured by your family, your teachers, or your school counselors.
Do you have a financial plan?
You may be thinking “I’d love to go to college, but I’m concerned about taking out massive student loans to pay for my education.” If so, check out our guide on how to pay for college. As you know, there’s often a hefty price tag attached to a college education. But with scholarships, need-based financial aid, and work study programs, there are options to make your college education more affordable.
Are you ready to commit?
College is a major time investment that requires a lot of focus to excel academically. However, the great thing about a college education is that you can start at any age, not only right after graduating high school. Just make sure that if you decide to pursue a college education, you’re ready to take on that commitment. After all, you want to ensure that you get the most out of the time and money you invest in your education.
I want to go to college…now what?
As we’ve discussed, there are many reasons to go to college. Getting a college education can set you up for a stable and profitable career in a variety of industries. Plus, going to college can be a rewarding experience where you explore new interests, find out how to live on your own, and make lifelong friends.
If you’re sold on the idea of going to college, check out the different types of colleges and universities you can attend. Start making a plan to pay for college and learn how much you should aim to save. And remember, a four-year bachelor’s degree program isn’t the only route to pursuing a higher education. Getting an associate degree at a community college or attending trade school are also viable options.