It is a well-known and vastly reported fact that the cost of college tuition is rising. And as we see such drastic increases without an accompanying rise in income, many of us question whether a college degree is actually worth the hundred grand many of us end up paying for it. Though there are many paths to success, a college education does vastly increase options in the job market, teach valuable skillsets, and connects lifelong friends and colleagues.
Here are seven reasons a college education is still worth it:
1. College doesn’t have to be expensive. Scholarships, grants, starting at a two-year community college or studying in state can greatly reduce the cost of your degree. A price tag is not always what it seems. Investing some time in researching and applying for scholarships can reap a big financial payoff. Alternatively, starting your college career at a community college will save you tens of thousands in loans, and you’ll still graduate with a degree from a four-year university.
2. College isn’t all about the degree—it’s also about the education. Living and learning on campus will be different than anything you’ve experienced before. You’ll have access to the best resources, professors and peers. If you take advantage of all the academic opportunities surrounding your campus existence, you will graduate with much more than a diploma.
3. College opens doors. Though not all careers require a four-year degree, many do. Plus, a four-year degree will almost always give you a leg up in any field. Though you’ll often hear the argument that people like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg don’t hold a college degree, such instances are exceedingly rare. Unless you’re a computer genius with a billion dollar idea, college is going to grant you access to many-a-profession.
4. College is a great place to network. The value of a college education is not entirely in the learning material, but also largely in the people on campus. Whether it’s your professors or your peers, college provides you with time to get to know new people with new ideas, who might inspire, encourage, challenge or work alongside you.
5. College graduates make more. Average out that hundred grand over 40 years in the work force, and it comes out to $2,500 per year. While that’s certainly a significant amount of money, it is by no means life changing, and probably won’t put much of a damper on your lifestyle. Consider the fact that college graduates earn an average of 56% more than high school graduates do, and your investment in a college degree, whether it’s $20,000 or $200,000, still pays off.
6. College graduates have higher rates of employment. According to the Pew Research Center, only 3.8 percent of college graduates are unemployed, whereas 12.2 percent of people with only a high school degree are unemployed. The job market is extremely competitive, and a four-year degree will greatly increase your odds of success.
7. A college education also takes place outside the classroom. Living on your own for the first time is a big deal. You learn how to take on new responsibilities and manage your own time—it is a valuable stepping-stone toward adulthood. College is an excellent time to learn about yourself: who you are, who you want to be around and what you want to do with your time on this planet.
Though the cost may seem daunting, a college education, experience and diploma is still a very worthwhile investment. There is so much to gain from a college degree, both tangible and intangible.