The Benefits of a College Education
While there are an unlimited number of pathways one can take to leading a happy, full life, possessing a college education can certainly make one’s life easier. There are many benefits of a college education. Let’s take a look at the big ones.
The first and most important benefit is, of course, the increased prospects of employment. The average unemployment rate for people ages 25-34 without a college degree is 9.8%, whereas the unemployment rate for those in the same age group who have Bachelor’s degrees is 4.1%. That means those without degrees are more than twice as likely to be unemployed. This is likely due to the fact that many employers simply won’t hire those without a college degree. It wasn’t always this way, but over the past few decades, a college education has become the norm for many of the most desired jobs.
With a college degree, you’re also likely to earn more. According to CollegeBoard, people between the ages of 25-34 who have a degree make an average of $45,000 a year. People without a degree make an average of $33,000 a year. The catch, however, is that many who have a college degree also have student debt. But, only 3.7% of people with Bachelor’s degrees have defaulted on their student debt, so this isn’t a huge concern.
Networking, networking, networking. I don’t blame you if you’re sick of hearing about how important it is—but it is true. School is ripe with networking opportunities, and is one of the many benefits of a college education. A wide-reaching, supportive network is an asset that you will be able to draw on throughout your life. In fact, simply completing college will grant you into one of the most advantageous kinds of networks: alumni networks. Especially at a big school with an extensive history—you’ll likely have some successful, well-connected alumni to reach out to.
Some networks are harder to embed yourself within—like the networks for certain academic departments or clubs. But with a bit of time and friendliness, you can naturally grow your network very quickly in school. This is a very hard thing to do in the real world. Working straight after your highschool graduation ensures that your network will consist of your coworkers. This is comforting, in a way, but not particularly helpful for trying to build your career beyond a certain company. Of course, there are ways to build a network outside of school—your friends are, after all, your best and most reliable network. But one of the benefits of a college education is that networking is built into the experience.
One of the most overlooked benefits of college is the fact that it is a time of self-exploration. High school can be a very academically intense, often with many requirements to fill and few electives. College is the opposite—there are of course some requirements—but in general, you have the freedom to try things that have never been available, and to figure out what exactly matters to you. By “You Time” I don’t mean time reserved for pampering or self-care, but for curiosity. Given that colleges often host a large student body with a diverse array of interests, they typically offer a diverse array of courses to match. It’s very possible that you’ll find something in a class that you otherwise would have never even heard of, and that this something could become a lifelong passion. So go on and apply, you’ve got nothing to lose, only to gain.
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