More and more occupations require higher education, meaning you have to be a college graduate. So if you’re looking for reasons to go to college, that’s probably one of the most obvious.
However, there are plenty of other reasons to continue furthering your education beyond the secondary level. While a college degree isn’t always required for lifetime happiness and career success, there are several good reasons to go to college and even a graduate school that you may want to consider.
Reasons to Go to College
Below are some of the best reasons to go beyond your high school education.
1. College Grads Earn More – And Face Lower Unemployment Rates
One of the most obvious reasons to go to college? You’ll probably make more money. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employees with bachelor’s degrees earn an average of $468 more per week than high school graduates.
While that might not seem like much, that extra cash will add up over your lifetime if you continue with your professional career. Even a bachelor’s degree can make that huge difference – so don’t feel like you need a doctorate to reap the benefits of postsecondary education.
When you earn a college degree, you are much less likely to lose that job, so to some extent, you get job security. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, students with a bachelor’s degree or higher are more likely to land a secure job with benefits and enjoy a much lower unemployment rate after college life.
2. You’re More Likely To Love Your Job
Although a college degree won’t eliminate your irritating boss or make it any less likely that you experience some everyday day-to-day job-related stress, college graduates are far more likely to experience greater job satisfaction.
A Pew Research report in 2016 discovered that nearly 80% of workers with postgraduate degrees and more than half of those with a bachelor’s degree found that their jobs gave them a sense of identity – that was compared to just over a third of those who only had a high school diploma.
3. Try New Things
The four-year degree college experience isn’t just about textbooks and libraries – it’s also about the many new experiences you’ll have in your personal life. Even if you choose not to live on campus (heck, even if you take only online classes!), earning a college degree will expose you to hundreds of new opportunities.
You can take courses in virtually any subject and experience new things that may not even be directly related to your major or future career. Like many college students, you can change your career path as you learn more about your field (and about yourself!) and join clubs and organizations that aren’t necessarily about your major to learn more about different career paths.
4. Your Professional Network Will Expand
When you attend college, it’s not just about the college courses or the lessons you learn inside the classroom or college campus – you will also be exposed to a wealth of opportunities outside of the school as well. Most times, employment opportunities start from your connections with other students.
You’ll forge valuable connections here to help you expand your professional network and career options. From faculty to classmates or even fellow club participants, these connections will help you jump-start your career, build new insights, and develop lifelong friendships outside the ones with your family members.
5. Become More Independent
When you attend college, you’re on your own; you achieve independence. You won’t have teachers, your high school counselor, or parents! hounding you always to get your work done, be on time, or prepare yourself for a successful career. It’s all up to you if you want to be successful in college.
From balancing the stressors of collegiate work to managing your time with a part-time job, you’ll need to become an independent adult to be a successful college student. Also, going to college helps you gain financial responsibility.
That said, you aren’t in it 100% alone – part of being successful in college will also rely on you checking in with the various organizations and professionals on campus for support. Many colleges offer support services like career preparation, specialized learning, tutoring, academic assistance, public speaking engagements, mental and physical health services, and more. Be sure you take it upon yourself to utilize all of these resources to the fullest!
6. Break Out of Your Shell
If you’re shy, you might think college is not for you despite its many benefits. That’s far from being the case, however. Going to college or a trade school is one of the best ways to break out of your shell and figure out who you are.
For many people, college is the necessary bridge between childhood and adulthood. The transition will give you time to break free from the person you were in high school and become the adult you might like to become. In college, you will make lifelong friends in your age group, and these people can help you get job opportunities after school.
In short, one of the best reasons to go to college is that it can be a truly transformative experience.
7. Learn New Skills and Find Your Way
If you’re going to college to major in business, then sure – you’re going to graduate knowing a whole lot about business (or whatever it is you choose to study – business is just an example).
But one of the best reasons to go to college may have little to do with your major. You may want to consider earning a college degree to gain skills that will help you succeed in your career. Unfortunately, some of these skills are hard to quantify or put to paper – they’re “soft skills” like communication, problem-solving, teamwork skills, time management, and collaboration.
College is one of the best ways to build these so-called soft skills. Not only will you be able to strengthen your aptitudes in your classes and throughout your coursework, but you’ll also be able to sign up for clubs or courses that will build your expertise (and your professional network, as we mentioned earlier) and give you a competitive edge.
Going to college may also help you find your direction, set career goals, and make your own decisions. Not sure what you want to do (or who you want to be) when you grow up? You don’t necessarily have to have the answer to this question before you go to college. Many schools don’t require that you declare a major until the end of your sophomore year. Then, you’ll have two full years to take classes in more general subjects and explore different majors.
Some schools will allow you to audit a class to determine whether it (or the major) is right for you. So although you won’t get academic credit or even a grade for completing the class, you’ll be able to gain experience and determine whether it suits your needs.
8. See the World
Many colleges have study abroad programs that will allow you to experience a new culture, country, and activities. These can be affordable, sometimes costing the same amount as a semester spent studying on-campus as usual.
Getting involved in studying abroad is a great way to see the world at a time when it’s most affordable and convenient for you to do so. Not only that, but it will allow you to expand your professional network around the globe!
Even if you choose not to study abroad, choosing a college whose campus is outside of your hometown will expose you to new communities, professional opportunities, cultures, and ways of life, too.
9. You’ll (Probably) Make More Money – And Know What to Do With It
While college may be expensive and there are certainly trades programs that will improve your likelihood of earning a high postgraduate salary, college graduates almost always earn higher salaries than those with just high school diplomas. Also, studies have shown that adults with a bachelor’s and master’s degree are more likely to have bank accounts and less likely to use expensive forms of credit – meaning you’ll fare better in the long term, even with your earnings aside.
College graduates are even more likely to become homeowners – perhaps because they earn a higher salary. Individuals with college degrees, according to a College Board report in 2019, “earn more, pay more taxes, and are more likely than others to be employed.” People with an advanced degree also have better health insurance and, as mentioned, more job security.
Earning and pursuing a college degree are both endeavors that will require you to take on significant financial responsibility and independence. In addition, attending college is a great way to expand your financial literacy. Between student loans and applying for student credit cards, you’ll also learn many financial lessons in college.
10. Preparation for a Specialized Career
You get specialized knowledge in a particular field when you go to college. This knowledge is one of the important benefits of going to college. Getting qualified in a specialized field makes it easier to get a job, especially if your specialty is in demand.
11. International Work Opportunities
Many employers abroad will only hire people with a college degree. So, if you dream of working outside your country, you need to go to college. A bachelor’s degree shows that you have the skills to manage a workload and stay committed to achieving that goal. However, note that your degree in some fields, like medicine and law, may not be very useful in a different country, so you may need additional specialization.
The Other Benefits of Earning a College Degree
The many reasons to go to college extend far beyond those outlined on this list. Go to college, and you are more likely to be married (and stay married for longer), live a longer life, and even have better overall health. Believe it or not, studies by the Brookings Institution found that just one additional year of college could reduce your mortality rate by up to 19%!
The Lumina Foundation reports that college degree holders are even happier overall, especially when compared to adults with no college education. So what better reason to further your education than lifelong happiness?
With these reasons to go to college in mind, consider filling out a few applications. After all, what do you have to lose?
Did you find this article helpful? Then learn about how to be successful in college here.