Updated November 12, 2019

Benefits of College

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The average college graduate leaves college with a whopping $37,000 in debt. That figure alone is enough to make you rethink your decision to go to college. But do the benefits outweigh the cost?

Why It's Important to Attend College

A college degree shows employers that you have the specialized skills to perform a particular job. It also lets them know that you are well-rounded, can manage your time, and can communicate effectively.

Keep reading for more reasons that college may be worth the price tag.

The numbers speak for themselves. College grads have a 1.5% lower unemployment rate than those who graduated high school but didn't go on to college. Even some college, such as an associate's degree, lowers your chance of employment by as much as 0.5%.

Going to College May Get You Get a Better Job

Even if you don't know what you want to do with your life, college has value. It helps you develop your analytical, communication, and organization skills that are crucial in the workforce.

Employers want college graduates because they've learned:

  • Professionalism
  • Time management skills
  • Self-discipline

These things can be just as important as your class rank or GPA.

Employers appreciate the broad range of skills you'll learn in college, with or without a major in an employer's particular field.

Going to College May Make You May Happier

We all know the college years could be some of the happiest of our lives. You are out of your parents' house and living under your own rules, so what's not to love?

That happiness could continue long after you obtain your degree, though. Your educational experience can take you places you wouldn't have otherwise gone. Having a college degree helps you pursue your passions, whether it's:

  • Climbing the corporate ladder
  • Switching to a new career
  • Starting your own business

College as an Investment in Your Future Self
Don't focus on the dollar signs when thinking about a college education. Instead, consider the payoff it will provide in the future.

When you invest in stocks, you don't expect an immediate payout (in most cases). The same is true for college. Even if it doesn't pay off immediately, somewhere down the line, you'll see the benefits.

Going to College May Make You Healthier

College graduates have a 9-year longer life expectancy than those who don't graduate high school, according to a CDC study.

It also found that those without a college degree had higher rates of obesity and higher rates of smoking. These factors could lead to a lower life expectancy, making an investment in college also an investment in your health.

Going to College Can Benefit Your Family

A college degree may ensure a higher income, but there are fringe benefits, too. These include:

  • Better health insurance
  • Lucrative retirement plans
  • Travel benefits
  • Educational benefits

Going to College May Give You Higher Job Security

With a college degree, you become a larger asset to your company. In other words, they can't easily replace you.

Your education gave you certain skills and knowledge that your company would have to search high and low to replace. With just a high school diploma, you are much easier to replace.

Use college to network Join professional societies that work within your college or find volunteer opportunities. Any professional connection can help you further your career now or even down the road.

Common Questions About Going to College

Is it worth it to go to an out-of-state college?
Going to college out of state can be exciting and scary. It can also be a lot more expensive if you attend a public university.

Unless you need a specific major that you can only find out of state or you think the networking will be greater in another state for your profession, sticking to colleges in your state will usually suffice.

What are the benefits of going to a community college?
Today, about half of high school graduates attend a community college. These schools offer benefits like:

  • Lower tuition
  • No room and board costs
  • Cheaper general education classes
  • Have time to figure out major
  • Easier to transition to 4-year college

What are the benefits of going to college right out of high school?
Not all high school grads go to college right away. But those that do have the following benefits:

  • Greater Likelihood of Graduating with a Degree
    High school grads who delay college to work often don't end up attending.

  • Staying on the Same Path as Your Classmates
    You may or may not end up going to college with your high school besties, but being able to relate to one another through the process can be motivating.

  • Learning Discipline for the Workforce
    Certain skills, such as time management and organization, can come from being on your own in college. Starting away can get you to where you need to be sooner.

What are the benefits of going back to college as an adult?
Not everyone can jump right from high school to college. If this sounds like you, here are several benefits of waiting until you're ready:

  • You Probably Have a Clear Goal
    Many adults who go back to school have a distinct position or industry they want to enter. Having a clear goal can streamline the education process.

  • You can Network
    Adults with direction can network with professionals and students in the same industry. This can increase your job prospects after college or even just give you the leg up in the industry.

  • Adult Classes are Often Flexible
    Colleges recognize that adults have other responsibilities in their lives, such as jobs and family. They tend to make the courses more flexible with timing, attendance requirements, and online coursework.

The Cons of Going to College

Despite the benefits, college may not be for everyone. Here are some of the drawbacks.

The Expense
If you can't pay for college upfront, you'll end up with student loans. They could last from 10 years to 40 years (in some cases). That can be a real drain on your future finances. If you feel overwhelmed by loan debt, make sure to check out our guide on how to get rid of student loans.

The Stress
College is a lot harder than high school. You need to learn time management and organizational skills. Discipline is also necessary. Getting poor grades or even failing a course can cost you thousands of dollars.

The Job Market
There's no guarantee that you will find a job right out of college. Sure, a college degree improves your chances. But it also depends on the economy, level of unemployment, and the skills you ultimately learn from attending school.

Bottom Line

Before going to college, consider your reasons. Do you have a specific path or are you just going because many of your friends are? Do you have the money to afford college or will you go into debt?

College has its advantages, especially when it comes to your future. But having a clear plan can help you decide if it's right for you.

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