Should You Get a College Education?

6 Reasons to Attend College and 3 Reasons Not To

University student studying in library
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If you are a high school senior, you are probably dealing with one of the biggest and hardest —not to mention one of the most expensive—decisions you will ever make. You will have to decide whether or not to go to college next year. Not all 17 or 18 year olds are ready to take this next step within the next 12 months, or maybe ever. Fortunately, there are career options for you whether or not you want to continue your education.

There are good reasons for going to college and equally compelling reasons to not go.

6 Reasons You Should Go to College

  • The Occupation You Are Interested in Requires a Degree: After doing a thorough self assessment and carefully exploring your options,  you've narrowed down your choices to an occupation that requires a bachelor's degree for all or most entry level jobs.
  • You Want to Advance in Your Career: Many occupations do not require one to earn a bachelor's degree to get hired for an entry level job. However, if you want to move beyond that position, there is a good chance you will need to go to college. You can decide whether to earn a degree before you begin your career or once it is underway.
  • You Will Learn Something Important: In addition to preparing you for a particular occupation, attending college will give you the opportunity to learn valuable skills that can help you succeed in any career. You will learn, for example, soft skills like oral and written communication, interpersonal, team work, time management, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Those who aspire to supervisory positions can learn people management skills. Individuals who dream of a creative or entrepreneurial career can acquire business skills.
  • You Will Increase Your Earning Potential: According to the US 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.
  • You Will Begin to Build 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 grow it.
  • You Will Be Exposed to Other Career Options:  In order to fulfill your college course requirements you will likely have to take classes outside your primary area of interest. By doing this you will learn about fields of study you may have not considered before. You can change majors if you desire since it isn't terribly difficult to pursue a different career while you are still in school.

3 Reasons College May Not Be for You

  • You Don't Need a College Degree for the Career You Have Chosen: There are many occupations that 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 though by attending a vocational school or doing an apprenticeship.
  • You Are More Interested in Partying Than in Studying: While a fair bit of ... err... socializing goes on in college, if visions of beer bongs and red plastic cups are your primary focus, you may not have given enough thought to the hard work involved in earning a bachelor's degree. Perhaps you need to get a bit more serious about your education before you head off to college.
  • You Are Only Thinking About Going to College Because Your Parents Want You To: 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.