Why go to college

Why go to college?

Nowadays some people question whether or not it is worth it to go to college. Let’s face it – college is not cheap, and it typically takes at least four years to earn a degree. In fact, it is expensive to attend college, especially if you go out of state, or to a private school. For both of you, I am estimating that it will cost close to $100K for your four-year degree. As you would expect, I have thought about this topic, completed some research, conducted my own analysis, and reached the conclusion that college is worth the investment of time and resources. Here are three compelling reasons why you should go to college.

1. You will learn about yourself – college offers the opportunity to figure out who you are…really. At college you get exposed to a lot of new things – new people, new places, and new ideas, to name a few. All these new experiences will help you learn more about yourself. I think it is critically important to take the time to learn more about yourself before entering the working world. You can do this through classroom experiences, social interactions, as well as self-reflection. While in college, it is likely that you will have more free time than any other point in your life. Take advantage of that time to learn about how you are wired, identify your strengths, your weaknesses, your passions, etc. Recently I had both of you complete the Myers-Briggs personality profile assessment. You learned about your personality – what you are like. In college, you can take this data and learn even more about who you are. It is worth it to know about yourself before venturing out into the world.

Personality types
Personality types

2. You will learn about the world – the academic experience in college is much different than in high school. You finally get the opportunity to take classes in subjects that interest you and learn more about the world. The working world offers many choices. Most colleges offer a plethora of choices when it comes to classes, majors, and research topics. College degrees range from technical subjects like computer science to the liberal arts like English, and everything in between. Some students will be preparing for the business world by studying marketing and finance, while others will focus on becoming an expert in playing a musical instrument. The choices seem endless at some colleges. It is easy to get overwhelmed. My advice is to take a diverse set of classes the first year, or two to figure out what interests you. Then, declare your major, and focus your studies on the topic that will become your job afterwards. Don’t lock into a major too early like I did, and definitely don’t take forever to figure it out.

3. You will position yourself for the future – let’s get practical for a moment. The research shows that on average college graduates make more money than those without college degrees. Simply put – employers pay more money for college degrees than for high school diplomas. Some will argue that some of the richest men in the world didn’t complete college (e.g., Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg). Yes – that is true, and there are others. But, they are the exception, not the rule. See the graphic below for more data about earnings potential.

Earnings potential based on education
Earnings potential based on education

I am not saying that money is the primary driving factor for getting a degree. I am saying that it may be challenging to earn a decent living in the United States without a college degree. I would not enter the workforce without one if offered the opportunity. There are counter arguments to everything I have written. I looked for a video about this topic with a perspective from someone more your age. The Youtube video below discusses this question. I actually agree with what they say regarding reasons why you would not go to college. If you know exactly what you want to do in life and getting a degree is not required, then it is worth considering skipping college. But, I would not make that decision lightly. A good college education has been a critical success factor for many in our family.

I am putting a warning here about the video. It does contain some profanity, so if that upsets you do not watch it.

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