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Although a degree is still the standard for obtaining gainful employment, sky-rocketing tuition and increasing loan debts have parents and students wondering if college is truly worth the investment.
According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, there’s been a 5.1% decline in undergraduate enrollment since fall 2019. In fact, following the coronavirus pandemic, many companies—particularly in the technology industry—have revisited their minimum education requirements for hiring purposes, emphasizing skills-based training and practical experience instead.
Nevertheless, 81% of college juniors and seniors recognize the value of a college education.
Consider how you’d respond if someone asked, “Why do you want to go to college?” If not primarily for a high salary someday, perhaps one of these six reasons might convince you to enroll.
1. Start New
College provides the opportunity for a fresh start in life. In addition to transitioning into adulthood, you’ll trade old habits for better ones and discover your purpose in the world.
For many students, higher education is also the beginning of forging lifelong friendships and bravely stepping outside of your comfort zone—the chance to shed old connections that no longer serve you or traits that have held you back.
While it may be somewhat cliché, starting anew helps you grow awareness of your most authentic self and belonging.
2. Learn Something
Are you a painter? Do you ever wonder how you can save the planet? Perhaps you dream about becoming a children’s book author.
Although the real-world experience will come when you enter the workforce, college will introduce you to new concepts and allow you to delve further into the things you’re most passionate about.
Take a creative writing course to brush up on your storytelling technique or acquire innovative thinking skills. Study how the brain works to understand human behaviors better.
Exploring various topics in a versatile curriculum of electives enables you to hone in on a specific program of study and gain proficiency in a subject you enjoy.
3. Gain Social Skills
Undoubtedly, college is the perfect environment for socialization. While attending extracurricular activities and sports events is an essential aspect of the overall college experience, the social skills you learn by interacting with peers and professors are invaluable.
In a 2018 study, nearly 42% of all employees held jobs where social skills were most important.
Students who enroll in college encounter diverse individuals from various backgrounds, ages, and interests. They develop critical communication and interpersonal skills—verbal and written—that enable them to speak clearly, respectfully, and intellectually with others.
In an increasingly competitive workforce, mastering these critical social skills will give you a step up in your job search after graduation.
4. Become Financially Responsible
The average annual cost of tuition is $35,331 to attend a four-year public university in the United States, including books, supplies, and living expenses. You may need to apply for financial aid and scholarships or take out a loan to pay for your education.
While in college, you’ll find ways to budget your student loans and better manage your finances. Although it’s a great feeling when your student loan hits your account, the money can disappear quickly between paying for rent, transportation, and takeout.
Many high school graduates take on their first part-time job during college, whereas others may have to pay a bill and learn about personal finances for the first time. Thankfully, attending college eases you into adult financial responsibility, setting you up for life.
5. Be Independent
In addition to being financially responsible, college students learn independence. While attending college, you’ll be accountable for showing up to your classes on time, studying to maintain your grades, meeting assignment deadlines, and making important decisions about your future.
During this transition into adulthood, it’s important to prioritize your health by eating healthy, exercising, and getting enough sleep.
University clinicians indicate that bouts of stress account for 5.9% of mental health issues in college students, with anxiety at 23.5%. Ultimately, poor mental health can affect your grades and ability to function in your everyday life.
That’s why stress management and self-care are essential parts of growing independent, ensuring you’ll have the tools to handle challenging situations and maintain good health throughout adulthood.
6. Learn About Yourself
Before you embark on your college journey, you’ll probably lack self-understanding and awareness of your real passions.
Sometimes it takes stepping away from the influence and comforts of home, family, friends, and your hometown to figure it all out.
In college, you have the opportunity to gain self-perspective, transforming however you see fit to know better the best parts of yourself, including your likes, dislikes, strengths, and weaknesses.
While gaining knowledge about your chosen field, becoming independent, and learning financial responsibility are excellent outcomes of attending college, nothing better prepares you for lifelong success and happiness than knowing who you are.
College Rewards Much More Than a Good Career
Regardless of companies nixing unreasonable degree requirements or if you’re after the highest-paying job you can find, there are so many other reasons you should consider higher education. Whether you attend community college, a four-year university, vocational school, or are heading back to finish your degree, you’ll reap the rewards in all aspects of your personal, academic, and professional life.