One of the most significant and challenging decisions you will ever make is whether or not to go to college. It is expensive and time-consuming to get a degree. While higher education is the right choice for some people, it isn't for everyone.
Statistics show that earnings are higher for those with a bachelor's degree, but there are also excellent, well-paying career options that only require a high school diploma (plus some additional training). Before making a decision, figure out what your plans are for using a degree if you get one and what they are if you don't.
Consider the pros and cons of going to college. Here are six compelling reasons to get a degree and three equally valid reasons that college may not be right for you, at least not yet.
6 Reasons to Go to College
- The Occupation You Want to Pursue Requires a Degree: After doing a thorough self assessment during which you will learn about your work-related values, interests, personality type, and aptitude, and then exploring career options that are a good fit, you've chosen an occupation that requires a bachelor's degree for all or most entry-level jobs. Without going to college, it will be impossible to enter the field.
- A Degree Will Help With Career Advancement: Many occupations do not require a bachelor's degree for entry-level jobs, but if you want to advance, you will need one. Decide whether to earn a degree before beginning your career or after it is underway.
- Going to College Will Provide Valuable Skills: In addition to preparing you for a particular occupation, you can learn valuable skills that can help you succeed in any career. Through participating in group projects, you will acquire soft skills like verbal and written communication, interpersonal, time management, critical thinking, and problem solving skills. If you aspire to a supervisory position, you will learn people management skills, and if a creative or entrepreneurial career is part of your plans, classes that teach business skills may be available.
- A Degree Will Increase Your Earning Potential: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), median weekly earnings increase with each level of education until they decline slightly with a doctoral degree. Your ability to stay employed will also improve. The BLS reports a lower unemployment rate among college graduates.
- College Provides the Opportunity to Begin Building Your Professional Network: Your relationships with fellow students and college faculty will allow you to lay a foundation for a professional network. These connections will help you get started on your career, and you will be able to access them for years to come as you advance.
- Taking a Variety of Classes Will Expose You to Other Career Options: Since many schools expect students to have a rounded education, you will have to take classes outside your major. There will be the opportunity to learn about fields of study you may not have considered before. Since it's easier to pursue a different career while still in school, this could be your time to change majors if you desire.
3 Reasons College May Not Be for You
- The Career You Want to Pursue Doesn't Require a Degree: Many occupations do not require a college education and earning a degree will do nothing at all to improve your chances of getting a job or advancing. You should get all the training you need by attending a vocational school or doing an apprenticeship if required.
- You Are More Interested in Partying Than in Studying: While a fair bit of...um...socializing goes on in college, if visions of beer bongs and red plastic cups are your primary focus when you think about college, consider postponing going. You may not have given enough thought to the hard work involved in earning a bachelor's degree. Perhaps wait until you are a bit more serious about your education before heading off to college.
- Your Parents Think College Is Important, But You Don't Really Want to Go: Your parents have your best interests at heart when they urge you to continue your education, but you have to want to earn a degree. No matter how much your parents want you to succeed in life, they will not be the ones who will have to put in all the hard work. However, you should consider what your parents are telling you. They may know enough about you and your aspirations to realize that college is a good choice.