The choice of whether or not to go to college may be the first major decision of a young adult’s life, as well as an important question for someone older looking to make a life change. There are numerous factors that go into the college application and decision-making process, from the cost, to the availability of loans, to the location and on-campus opportunities for students. And while the price of a college degree continues to increase, it’s an investment that can have major pay-offs, both financially and otherwise.
According to a 2020 Study from the website BestColleges, 82% of adult college graduates report that getting their degree was a good financial investment. It’s easy to see one reason why: according to the Federal Reserve, the average college graduate with a bachelor’s degree earns about $30,000 more annually than the average worker with a high school diploma.
Going to college can open doors to new experiences, both during and after getting a degree. While the financial opportunities that college can bring are certainly worth considering, there are so many more benefits to getting an undergraduate degree. Here’s a look at the vast benefits to becoming a college grad.
Explore Areas of Interest
Some students enter college already knowing what they want their major to be. Whether someone’s a star chemistry student going pre-med or a drama nerd ready to delve into theater, college can be a time to deepen the interests students have cultivated throughout their education.
Declaring a major sets a student up to explore a particular subject from all angles, becoming somewhat of an expert in their chosen field. A student will take numerous courses in their major, sometimes culminating in a thesis project on a specialized subject.
There are often clubs and activities in each major field, allowing students to develop communities with others who have shared interests, broadening the scope of their education.
College can also be a time to explore new areas, and can give students the chance to discover subjects they may not have known much about before.
College students are often encouraged to explore new subjects, especially in their freshman year, in order to experiment, and perhaps find a new and promising area of study.
Going to college can be a way to deepen one’s understanding of a particular subject, whether it’s something a student may have studied previously, or a completely new topic.
Either way, getting a degree is a way to open the mind and tap into a sense of intellectual curiosity in an environment conducive to rigorous and serious academic exploration.
One of the most practical arguments for going to college is to improve your earning potential. The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities reviewed the impact a college degree could have on someone’s earning potential and found that millennials with a high school diploma earned just 62% of what their counterparts with a college degree earned.. And while actually achieving that college degree may cost a pretty penny, a majority of college graduates believe it was worth it.
Like any investment, there has to be money put in up front, unless you get a full scholarship or a college loan. Ideally, that upfront investment of time and money will pay off in the long run.
Open Up Potential Career Paths
While a college degree may have been a way to stand out from the crowd in the past, today it’s proving to be a prerequisite for most jobs. According to a 2019 study from the National Center for Education Statistics, 25- to 34-year-olds with a bachelor’s or higher degree had an 87% employment rate, compared to a 74% employment rate for those who had only completed high school.
While going to college can be a highly rewarding experience in itself, it can be wise to consider possible career paths while selecting courses and deciding on a major. Employers may not necessarily be looking for a specific specialization when hiring, but often may appreciate someone with a well-rounded academic background.
Certain fields, however, like business and medicine, may require that students’ major field corresponds to their choice of career. When exploring different subjects during college, a student may find out about a new area they may want to pursue as a career, a huge benefit of getting an undergraduate degree as well.
Expand Your Circle
College can be a time to build the relationships that will greatly affect your life—and possibly your career. Over the course of the four years it takes to complete a bachelor’s degree, there are countless opportunities to make new connections—from the people in your dorm, to your classmates, to those you meet through extracurriculars.
College can be a time to develop a wide and varied circle, or to simply grow several deep and lasting friendships. It can also be a time to meet a romantic partner, whether the relationship is short- or longer-term.
Having a wide circle can help out in a variety of ways. From finding post-grad roommates to knowing people in the field of work one’s trying to get into, college connections can be an invaluable resource in life.
Improve Critical Thinking and Communication
The so-called “soft skills” of being a good listener or critical thinking are also in high demand by employers, and college can be a prime time to develop them. These are skills that can be honed both in and outside the classroom, and college aims to give students a well-rounded experience that helps them develop both socially and academically.
College is the first time many people live away from home, and it can be a nerve wracking experience. But once students are over the hump, living on one’s own can be an extremely fun, and rewarding experience.
College can be a chance to dip one’s toes in the waters of independence, experimenting with living alone, gaining some financial independence, maintaining a budget and deciding what classes to take.
College can be the ideal stepping stone toward independence, and is a helpful way for young adults to see what adulthood can be like.
While making the decision whether or not to go to college is not always easy, there are a host of good reasons to continue one’s education. The benefits can be financial, social, and intellectual, and can continue to be felt throughout an adult’s life.
The friends and connections one makes during college can enrich a person’s life and help them to network in their chosen field of work, while the financial security a college degree can offer is a major factor in the decision-making process as well.
It’s important to make an informed decision, taking all of these points into consideration. Once the decision to go to college has been made, it’s time to decide when and where to apply, how to pay for it—then, the educational journey can really begin.
Figuring out how to pay for college might be another challenge students face on their way to adulthood. Options like scholarships, grants and federal financial aid like work-study or student loans can help students finance their education. In some cases, that might not be enough to cover the full cost. Private student loans, like those offered by SoFi, can help fill the gap.
SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs. SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.
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