Try answering this question as simply as you can: What are your top few reasons for wanting to go to college? Don’t worry, there’s no wrong answer. To grow intellectually, to meet new people, whatever it might be. But if you said “To be able to get a better job,” then you’re just like 85% of other incoming college freshmen, according to one major annual survey. There’s no doubt that college fuels invaluable personal and intellectual growth, but the professional benefits of attending college – like getting a better job, making more money, etc. – are still major factors for most people in their college decision.
Let’s go over some of the many ways in which college can benefit your professional life.
Access to a Better Job Market
As you might guess, people with college degrees generally have access to more secure and lucrative job opportunities. College degrees are becoming more and more necessary for access to the highly-skilled labor force - in many cases, a high school degree just won’t cut it anymore. In fact, Millennials with college degrees are more likely than those with only high school degrees to be in a stable career, feel satisfied with their job, and feel prepared for the demands of their job, all while being less likely to be unemployed. A college degree might not automatically land you your dream job, but it certainly increases your chances of finding a career that brings you success and happiness.
Make More Money
You’ve probably heard this more times than you care to remember, but it is absolutely worth repeating. Going to college is, generally speaking, your ticket to a higher paying job and huge increases in your lifetime earnings. Pew Research found that Millennials with Bachelor’s degrees earn, on average, $17,500 more per year than Millennials with only high school degrees. They are less likely to be unemployed, less likely to live in poverty, and more likely to hold their jobs through recessions. And despite the rising cost of college, the long-term economic benefits of an Associate’s and/or Bachelor’s degree still greatly outstrip the short-term costs. There’s no doubt about it, for the vast majority of people, going to college is a financially responsible, and even lucrative investment.
While it might seem a bit strange to consider now, one of the most valuable aspects of college is simply getting to know people. That’s right, who ever thought making friends could have such a big payoff in your professional life? Making connections means simply getting to know people who are further along in their careers than you. These can be professors, administrators, general faculty, or even older students. When you’re ready to find an internship or get out into the workforce, you can call on your connections for advice and information to make the process easier.
Choose the Right Career
Of course, all of this job talk assumes that you know exactly what you want to do in your professional life, which may very well not be the case! In fact, the notion that everyone enters college with a crystal clear image of their future major and career path is largely a myth. 80% of students in the US end up changing their major at least once, and on average, students change majors 3 times over the course of their college career. That’s a lot of indecision, but far from being a bad thing, this is where college actually proves to be truly valuable. By trying out a wide variety of classes and majors, you’ll get to explore what future careers might be right for you.