Five Reasons to Go to College

by Chloe Muller on May 1, 2021

in Career And Education

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When I lived in New York City, I worked at a high performing college preparatory charter school.  It serviced low income families in a Brooklyn neighborhood that was well known for its rampant poverty and crime. Every morning after breakfast, on the way to the classrooms, teachers and children would chant together:

“What’s your destination?”

“Higher education!”

The basic mission statement behind that school, and many progressive urban schools like it was: College is your ticket to a better life. Faced with the cycles of historical disadvantage, poverty and government assistance, a college education (and a subsequent higher salary) were the bridge to a dream that previous generations couldn’t imagine.

From a social justice point of view, the reasons for obtaining a college education seem clear. If our country’s youth are well educated and earning higher salaries, both individual and collective futures will improve.

Over the years, I have had the pleasure of meeting people from all nations and walks of life, and hearing their stories has convinced me that college is a personal choice, whose benefits and outcomes are vastly different for everyone. However, for the current economic and social atmosphere in the United States today, there is very good reason to believe that college is the right path to take.

There are actually a myriad of reasons why getting a college degree you will actually use can deliver social, educational, personal and economic advantages, but here are 5 of the reasons why it’s a good idea to go to college:

1. Academic study in an established learning atmosphere

Professors are experts in their fields, obviously. So when you really want to learn how to be the best doctor, lawyer, actress, teacher or whatever you want to be, it’s probably a good idea to get your knowledge from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. Universities and colleges have spent decades perfecting the curriculum from the best and brightest sources, which is then delivered to students in an organized fashion. But learning doesn’t end with the course syllabus. Studying at the college level will also teach you how to manage your time and be prepared for academic and professional challenges, if you are willing to put forth the effort to do well academically. The writing and research assignments, along with class discussions, can hone your critical thinking and open your mind to new and thrilling ideas.

2. A degree that leads to a successful, rewarding career (and a good salary.)

This is the big one for many. Studies have proven that salaries increase with years of education. For most jobs, you won’t even get your foot in the door without at least an associate’s degree. For those who begin college after starting a family, this increase in salary can make a huge difference in their quality of life.

3. Social development among peers (and non-peers)

College is usually where thousands of high school graduates are thrown together in close quarters and learn to get along, or don’t. From the organized socialization of fraternities and sororities, to the eye opening class discussions facilitated by the world’s coolest hippy professors, you will encounter many people and personalities. Even the living arrangements will introduce you to a variety of backgrounds and lifestyles. This will only benefit you if you go with an open mind and lots of patience.

Some choose to live at home or off campus, but there are still plenty of social opportunities for them as well. In addition to the incidental socializing of dorm rooms and parties, there are also endless groups and organizations to investigate, covering everything from environmentalism to business to social work to sports.

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This social development also prepares us to give something back.  Since we are socialized as well as educated in college, we also learn to become a productive member of society. The academic and social aspects of college life teach you to get along and work together with others, respect and understand cultural and ideological differences, and they prepare you to earn a living and help to grow our civilization into the next century.

4. Independence

For many new college attendees, this is their first time away from mom and dad, and it shows. Whether you get the hang of doing your own laundry or balancing your bank account the first time or you fall and pick yourself up again a dozen times, you’re on your own, kiddo. This can be extremely liberating, and I think the failures are as valuable as the successes. Independence also gives you the chance to find your own way of doing things and discovering more about yourself.

5. Individual development

A college degree can be the ticket to doing what you love everyday for the rest of your life. If you take the time to think carefully about things that interest you, there is no doubt that you will find a degree of study that relates to it. You will also have a chance to grow into the intelligent and socially responsible adult you were always meant to become, while pursuing an academic passion that can launch a lifetime of learning and success.

For every good reason to go to college, there are other things to consider when finalizing your decisions.

One of the biggest ones is cost. I loved my college experience, I miss the learning and social environment but I do not love my college debt. The price of tuition these days can be shocking and unethical, so be find good sources for scholarships and financial aid, and avoid being in debt for the rest of your life.

For all of these reasons, you will always find a counter- argument against college. Some say that a person can achieve all of these life changing phenomena without the benefit of a college education. To this I feel compelled to mention the many socio economic disadvantages in our society today: sometimes that college degree is the only way to overcome them. But I do believe that college is not a choice that should be taken lightly. There’s something to be said for waiting a few years and gaining some work experience first, in order to find out what you’re really interested in doing for a significant portion of your life.

I’ll never forget a powerful moment I witnessed between my school director and one of my favorite (and most challenging) students.

“David” was in the office again after yet another conflict with his teacher. My boss asked him point blank, “Do you like people telling you what to do?”

David: (a very sullen) “No.”

My director: “Well, unless you do well here in school and get a college education, people will be telling you what to do for the rest of your life.”

Point taken.

Yes, there will still be bills, and deadlines and people to please throughout your life, but the autonomy of a degree (and its accompanied occupational pursuits) are priceless.

 

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