There has been a lot of talk lately about whether or not it is worth getting a four year college degree.
While it can greatly increase your chances of landing a high paying job after graduation, that is not always the case. In fact, there are several six figure income jobs that don’t require a degree and can still get you a big paycheck.
However, there are many important reasons a young person should consider going to college other than just the potential financial rewards.
10 Reasons to Go to College
1. Start Fresh
Sometimes you just need a fresh start in life. You need to put away your old habits and your old self, and become the person you were meant to be. That may sound cheesy, but I’ve found it to be true of myself as well as many other people I know. It is especially the case for young people who are transitioning from childhood to adulthood. College is the perfect opportunity to break out of that old shell and become someone totally new.
2. Meet People
I met many of my best friends while I was at college, and I even met my spouse while working a summer internship for college students. These people have shaped my life tremendously and have helped me grow as a person. I could not imagine who or where I would be without the many people who influenced me during my college years.
3. Learn Something
It is true that many degrees do not prepare you for the real world in terms of what you learn. However, a college education is an opportunity to learn what you love. Take the time to enjoy learning what you are truly passionate about. If you are interested in a variety of things and aren’t sure where to focus, check out iTunes U, an online resource where you can take college courses at the top universities for free.
4. Gain Financial Responsibility
For some people, this is not a want but a need. Parents do a lot for their children these days and many kids are not as mature upon high school graduation as they used to be. A lot of high school graduates have never worked, paid a bill, or learned anything about personal finance. Even as parents teach kids about money management, they can help their kids ease into real world responsibilities by having them spend time in college.
5. Achieve Independence
Along with gaining financial responsibility, there is the need for kids to mature in their decision-making. While parents may worry over their child’s new-found freedom, teens are generally pretty excited about it. College can give a young person the independence they feel they need as well as the opportunity to start making their own decisions. That being said, parents should still be parents at this point and help their children transition into adulthood (especially if they are paying for their child’s college education through something like a 529 college savings plan).
6. Get Involved
If you have an interest in politics, you can get involved in Student Government. If you want to be a journalist, here is the opportunity to get a head start by working on the school paper. Whatever you are interested in, I guarantee there is a group for it. Not only is this a way for you to explore something you’re passionate about, it’s an opportunity to have your voice heard and to gain practical experience that you can put on your resume.
7. Get a Change of Scenery
For some people, the number one reason to go to college may simply be the opportunity to move to a new location. Many northerners may want to go to school in the south to escape the cold. Others may just want to get out of a small town and see the world. Even moving from a childhood home to a dorm on a local college campus can be a great change of scenery. No matter where you go, you are, in some way, leaving what you’ve always known. This can be the first step in discovering where you fit in the world.
8. Attend Football And Other Sporting Events
A great way to save money on season football tickets is to be a student. I went to the University of Florida (Go Gators!), and student tickets at that time were only $6 per game! Other sporting events were free for students.
9. Figure Out Who You Are
I am not sure that I had any clue who I was when I began college. I didn’t know what direction I wanted to go in life, or what my real passions were. It took me leaving my family, my friends, my hometown, and their influences to begin to figure myself out. It gave me a starting point as I transitioned from everything I had once known.
10. Have Some Fun
Sometimes I get a little sad thinking that college was the best time of my life. While I know that is not really true, I must admit that I had a really fun time. I will always be thankful I was able to have that experience.
Even if you are choosing community college or vocational school instead of a four-year college, many of these reasons still apply. Furthermore, the same reasons are relevant even if you are not a young adult but are simply young at heart and going back to school. The idea here is that college is more than just a way to get a high-paying job, it’s a way to enjoy life and become the person you were meant to be.
What are some of the reasons why you went to college? What did you gain most from the experience?
Categories: Careers, College & Education
This is the 23rd post of 30 Days to Freedom: How to Write College Admissions Essays That Work. To access earlier posts, click here.
Most students totally miss the opportunity to connect with colleges in their supplement essays. Supplement essays are your best chance to demonstrate what admissions officers call your “fit” for a specific college, so give them your best energy.
How can you authentically answer questions like “Why do you want to attend this college?” for each college on your list?
First of all, for the time that you are answering each college’s supplements, think of that college as the only one you are applying to. Go even further: imagine you are really attending that college, research classes and extracurriculars. Go ahead and phone a friend who already attends that college, or chat with one of the students on the college’s web site. Dive in and ask yourself:
- What classes will you take?
- Which courses and interdisciplinary programs excite you?
- Where will you hang out when you’re not in class?
- In which clubs will you take on a leadership role?
- What is something you’ve always wanted to do that you can only do at that college?
What are the most powerful connections between your past experiences and what you see yourself taking on at that particular college? Depending on the question, tell a story that helps you to answer the particular question the college is asking.
Try this example: The University of Rochester asks you to describe a moment that embodies their motto, Meliora, “ever better.” Take some time to brainstorm what “ever better” means to you. Is it the time you were about to give up but kept going? A time when you surpassed your previous limit? Is it something about the community becoming better through something you made happen? Writing down all your ideas as you brainstorm will help to open up your memories and creativity not just to the definition, but also to moments that reveal what you have done that embodies the motto “ever better.” Those are the connections you are looking for: stories that show your idea of “ever better” in action and in life.
If the question is “What major” or “What program of study” the steps are the same: do a deep dive into that particular major at that particular school, paying close attention to interdisciplinary programs that connect the major with exciting research and other unique opportunities at that school. Then find the genuine connections between what you want to study in college and work you have already done.
Remember: you can’t make up genuine connections! You need to take the time to get to know each college you are applying to–in as much depth as you possibly can–and write your essays about yourself, but with a strong sense of which college you are talking to when you complete that college’s supplements.
Tomorrow: how to respond to supplements that ask about you—your influences, community, your passions and activities.
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Carol Barash, PhD, founder and CEO of Story To College and author of Write Out Loud, has taught over 10,000 students–from first-generation college students to the children of bankers and CEOs–and teachers from around the world how to tell their stories and write essays that win admission and scholarships at their top choice colleges.