Many people are starting to question whether college is really worth the money or the time. According to the Institute for College Access & Success, students who graduated from public and nonprofit colleges in 2013 had an average of $28,400 in student loan debt per borrower.
Student loan debt is just one of the many reasons that some people should not go to college. Others don’t need a degree for the career they want, or they need to start work immediately. Especially if you have no idea what you want to do with your life, college can be a big waste of money. However, there are still many positives to attending college.
The most obvious advantage is the fact that college attendees generally make much more than those workers with only a high school diploma. However, the reasons to invest in higher education extend past just the financial. Here are four important reasons to consider attending college.
1. You will probably make more money
Let’s face it: most of us want to make money, and making more money is often a good thing. According to Simply Hired, the average salary for a college graduate is $46,000, but the average is $32,000 for those with a high school diploma. Obviously, more money is often a plus, and although colleges can be expensive, many people feel that having debt is reasonable if it leads to a better paying job.
Although student loan debt can be crippling, if you make more money, you should have more money to pay off that debt. When your debt is paid off, you will be able to use the extra income for discretionary spending. Plus, although student loans are common, some students are able to go to college on scholarship, or are able to work while attending school and avoid loans all together.
2. Many jobs require a college degree
You can certainly start at a company and work your way up, and you may be able to achieve the career you hope for. However, many high-level jobs require at least an associate’s degree. Even if you are able to move up in the company, some jobs will still be out of your reach without a degree. Depending on this position, you may be required to obtain a degree even if your experience far surpasses workers coming in with a degree.
In addition to specific jobs within a field requiring a degree to move forward, many specific careers also require a specific degree. There are certainly excellent jobs that you will not need a degree for, but certain positions (like most teaching jobs, nursing jobs, and so on) will require formal training. If you want to have a career in one of these fields, you will have to earn the necessary degree. Even if your field doesn’t require a degree, sometimes obtaining one will still help you be more qualified than other candidates.
3. You will gain valuable work skills
College is often what you make of it. While some colleges are better known and more prestigious than others, you can gain a valuable education at most schools if you put the work in. If you attend class regularly, and you choose classes that will challenge you, you will get more from school. You should focus on classes that will help develop skills that will help you in your field. It’s also important to get an internship if possible. Internships will help you gain technical experience, build your resume, allow you to network, and potentially show you whether or not your major is the right choice for your future.
A part-time job can also be valuable while you are in school, especially if it relates to your future field.
4. College is a new experience
While you shouldn’t pay thousands of dollars simply to have an experience and meet new people, the exploratory aspect of college is very important. Not only will you hopefully determine whether or not your intended career is the right fit, but you also will learn how to interact with other people. When you get out into the work world, you will need to work with many different personalities, and college is a great time to start practicing.
College also is a good introduction to being an adult. Although you will probably still have a meal plan, you will be responsible for attending class and doing well, keeping track of commitments, and so on. Many aspects of college translate into important life skills that will help you after college.
There are many other reasons to go to college. You may meet friends that you will have your entire life. You also might study abroad and learn about new cultures, or you may join clubs that you never knew existed. College gives you the chance to start fresh and reinvent or find yourself.