Graduating from high school and thinking about heading off to college can be a scary time. It’s easy to convince yourself that your classmates have all the answers and you’re the only one without a plan. Stop right there. Even students with the most detailed life plans will change course along the way.
It’s not too late to explore your options and plan for college. Enrolling in a four-year university, a two-year community college, or a trade school will help continue your education. College Foundation of North Carolina, CFNC, is here to help you plan, apply, and pay for school. If you’re still on the fence about higher education, here are eight reasons why you should go to college.
1. Earn More Money
College graduates have more earning potential on average than people who only have a high school diploma. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that in 2018, people with a college degree made around $1,198 a week. Someone with a high school diploma earned just $730. That could mean non-college grads are missing out on $1 million in earnings, over a lifetime.
The unemployment rate for college grads is also about half the jobless rate of high school graduates. Getting a good-paying job is one of the top reasons why most people go to college. Beyond financial rewards, there are other ways college can change your life.
2. Break Out of Your Shell
College can be the bridge between childhood and adulthood. The transition is an opportunity for you to reflect on the person you were in high school, and the adult you want to become. If you quietly sat in the back of every class in high school, use your college experience to become more outgoing! If you wish you’d studied more in high school, college is an opportunity for you to hit the books harder.
3. Gain New Skills
Don’t be afraid to take classes that will improve your skills and make you more confident. Every class you take does not have to apply to your major. If you are a communications major, but computer science has always interested you, take a computer class. Overcome your fear of public speaking by taking a theater or speech class. Become a better writer by taking a writing class.
The idea of college is to grow personally and professionally. Also, take classes that are just fun. You could even take a horseback riding class!
4. Find Your Direction
What do you want to be when you grow up? You don’t have to know the answer to that question before going to college. Most schools don’t require a student to declare a major until the end of their sophomore year. That gives you two whole years to work on general courses and explore different majors. If you’re interested in psychology, take a couple of classes to see if it’s right for you. Some professors will allow you to audit a course, to find out whether you will enjoy that major. You won’t get a grade or credit for auditing a course, it’s just for academic exploration.
Consider taking a community college course while you’re still in high school. That will allow you to gauge your interest in a field of study while earning college credit. CFNC can help you figure out what interests you and ultimately help you choose a career you will enjoy.
5. Live a Healthier and Happier Life
With more education comes the potential for a better job, a better salary, and better health benefits. Studies show that college-educated people are more likely to see a doctor regularly, are less likely to smoke, have a lower body mass index (BMI), and eat a healthier diet. An additional year of college decreases mortality rates by 15 to 19 percent, by reducing deaths from cancer and heart disease, according to a study by the Brookings Institution.
People with college degrees have higher job satisfaction and report their work to be more satisfying and interesting. A Pew Research Center study found that 55 percent of college graduates reported being “very satisfied” with their work. Only 40 percent of non-graduates reported the same.
6. Expand Your Career Options
Many job postings require a college degree just to get an interview. Employers understand that college develops your ability to think analytically, to understand complex subjects, and to better communicate your ideas. No matter what major you pursue in college, employers know you picked up skills in organization, self-discipline, and the ability to follow through on important tasks.
A college education also is expected to become more valuable. Some 99 percent of jobs created since the recession went to individuals with at least some postsecondary education.
7. See the World
Take advantage of college study abroad programs to experience a new country, culture, and activities. Study abroad programs can be very affordable, usually costing about the same as a semester at college. For most students, it may be the first time they’ve been out of the United States.
Study Abroad programs are more than just fun, they’re a great way to challenge yourself and to open new professional opportunities. Many employers are looking for graduates who have international experience. It shows you have knowledge of different work styles, an open mind, and good communication skills.
8. Get Involved
Living away from home for the first time can be intimidating. Try joining clubs and organizations to develop a new community and to make new friends with similar interests. Activities can also help you build confidence while developing important leadership and teamwork skills. If you’re interested in politics, try joining student government. If you just want a break from studying, find out when the Ultimate Frisbee Club meets. College offers you more than a degree. Clubs and activities provide endless ways to broaden your horizons.
The reasons why you should go to college go beyond getting a solid education. That’s because the opportunities available inside and outside the classroom will help you take the important next steps into adulthood and your future career. CFNC.org has great tools to help parents and students explore college options. There are also resources to help you apply and pay for higher education. Let us help you figure out how to get the college, now that you understand why you should go to college.