Have you been debating whether going to college is a good move for you? It’s a big decision that you shouldn’t take lightly. And, you may have particular personal or family circumstances that you need to take into account. For example, if you’ve been in the working world for a while, you might balk at giving up a full-time job. Maybe you have children or a family to support.
Only you can decide whether college is right for you — and when it’s right for you — but a college education is almost always an excellent long-term investment. Let’s review the main reasons why.
Better earning and employment potential
Hands down, job applicants graduating from college have a better chance of landing a well-paying position. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), people who have completed a postsecondary degree can expect to earn more than those who only have a high school diploma. It’s also the case that these occupations come with more security and greater earning potential for the long term.
Oftentimes, a college education is a required credential in job postings. This means that college graduates have more work opportunities open to them and generally have a lower rate of unemployment throughout their working lives. While a specific course of study may not strictly be needed for the job in question, employers may view college graduates as having greater maturity and more of the essential skills needed for the position. Even non-specific, general skills like problem-solving, critical thinking, reading comprehension, and writing are enhanced in college.
Foundational family benefits
Even if you don’t have dependents, a college degree can position you for a job with good benefits. Having funding for medical and dental care and retirement can go a long way. Such benefits and other perks, like a chance to travel, may be rare for jobs that only require a high school diploma.
The advantages of having a solid benefits package really become evident when you have a family. The stability and security that comes with this is truly invaluable. When you think about it, the worth of these benefits can even equate to a much higher salary.
More career options
A college education exposes you to a variety of career paths and offers a safe and exciting place to really think about what you want to do with your life. The learning that students take part in during their college years cannot be understated. College classrooms are where you can study what interests you, explore different careers, and sample a diverse range of educational opportunities.
In addition, college campuses offer a multitude of clubs and organizations to join. Taking advantage of these special interest groups, as well as meeting other students and educators with different backgrounds, can additionally help you define and enhance your career trajectory.
Establishing connections and networking
The college environment helps you establish connections that often stand the test of time. Forging strong friendships is one of the main joys of life, of course, but the college environment also allows you to make professional and career-focused connections, too. Your professors, teaching assistants, your classmates, the person living down the hall — you never know who you’ll meet, and how they might change the course of your life or your career. Outside of the college campus, you’d be hard pressed to find same concentration of potentially helpful people all together in one place.
Your professors can be particularly invaluable in helping you figure out your career goals or learn more about whatever fascinates you. For example, maybe you may have the chance to assist a professor with their research or have a co-op placement in your field of study. And of course, it’s always good to have a positive a reference from a knowledgeable person who can speak to your skills and personality.
It may be self-evident, but pursuing higher education increases your knowledge. In an environment dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge, where you’re surrounded by interesting individuals and teachers, you’ll be encouraged to take in all that you can. The few years of your life that you spend in college will boost your general knowledge and help you acquire skills that will aid you in your career.
Perhaps most important of all, you’ll meet people who are different from you, with different experiences, perspectives, and ways of looking at the world. That’s why college can prompt you to re-examine your own assumptions and beliefs and broaden your worldview. In this way, you expand your capacity to think thoughtfully and critically.
Grow as a person
Closely aligned with greater knowledge is the personal growth that college can spark. Whether you’re just out of high school, or coming back to college after establishing a career or family, the college learning environment encourages personal growth. Maybe you’ll learn what’s it like to be on your own for the first time, without your parents. Maybe your classes will spark a passion for a subject that you didn’t know you had. Maybe you’ll have a teacher who challenges your beliefs, or make friends with someone who introduces you to your new favorite hobby. Whatever your circumstances, a college education will challenge you to grow as a person and as a student.
In short, a college education helps you develop personally, enhances your skills, and sets you up to secure a job with higher earning potential, where you can lead a satisfying career. No matter where you are in life, a college education can help get you where you want to go — or launch you on a new journey to someplace equally wonderful.