Intellectual Benefits of College


For just a second, forget about all of the other benefits of college, such as the potential for higher earning power and getting to have four (give or take) years of semi-supervised fun before entering “the real world.” For now, just focus on the most basic (yet arguably the most important) benefit of college – the intellectual benefits. Indeed, when it comes down to it, this is why you attend college: to be able to learn more, think deeper, be tested, and find your passion.

Let’s break down the intellectual benefits of college:

Learn More. At its most basic, college provides the opportunity to learn. Not only to learn about subjects with which you’re already familiar, but also about topics that you’ve never heard of before, let alone studied. This will enhance your knowledge and increasingly mold you into a well-rounded member of society.

Think Deeper. College coursework will challenge you in ways that your high school classes did not. Your professors will have you thinking in ways you may have never thought before. Even if you studied a particular subject in high school, you’ll be going into much more depth and detail in college. In doing so, your ability to read demanding works of literature and grasp complex, abstract concepts will increase – you’ll gain the capacity to think deeper.

Be Tested. This doesn’t mean the literal act of taking tests (though you’ll be doing plenty of that in college). In college, your professors and peers will test your preconceived notions about the world and the way you think about things. In this way, college acts as an aid to reflection, which can help you broaden your horizons and mindset.

Find Your Passion. Perhaps the most important intellectual benefit, college enables you to find your passion. It is an exploratory time for you, in the words of Andrew Delbanco*, to “take stock of [your] talents and passions and begin to sort [your life] in a way that is true to [yourself] and responsible to others.” Perhaps you already know what you want to do with your life, but for the majority of students, college provides the opportunity to explore, check out your options and find the thing (or things) that you care about most. College can help you find your purpose. For more on Andrew Delbanco, check out his book entitled, “College: What it Was, Is, and Should Be”. 

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