I hear from many students who are worried about the financial cost of a college education, not to mention the time commitment required to earn a degree. Both in my time as the Director of College Counseling at Cheshire Academy and during my time as an admission officer in higher education, I worked with students who needed to weigh the costs and the benefits of earning a college degree. A lot of times, students are scared off by media reports that college is too expensive. I would argue that it is too expensive not to go to college, and here’s why:
Pursuing a college degree provides students a lifelong foundation to excel in any number of fields.
Going to college helps students learn foundational skills such as critical thinking, inquiry, problem solving, and effective communication. For example, a student with a degree in English might learn to leverage those verbal skills into the fields of marketing, journalism, insurance writing, or even sales. A major might not have much to do with a student’s end profession, but it will have a lot to do with the skills they use every day in that profession.
College graduates may earn well over $1,000,000 more, on average, than high school graduates in their lifetime.
Great business minds know the saying, “Sometimes you have to spend money to make money.” The same can be said for a college education. College degrees can open up high paying jobs and opportunities to make connections. There’s plenty of research on the subject, but I’m fond of this article in Forbes.com.
Nearly every industry requires college degrees for advancement in the field.
You know the story: Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs never went to or finished college. Certainly there are big names of people who never went to college and have been very successful, but those people are exceptions. Many people find that the skills taught in college and the structure provided there helps them to achieve beyond what they would be capable of accomplishing without college. In addition, most companies simply have positions that include a college degree as a non-negotiable requirement.
Money isn’t the only incentive.
While certainly money should factor into your decision, there’s something to be said for the amount you’ll learn from years of studying for a college degree. As a college student, you’ll be required to read the research of those who came before you, allowing you to better understand both your field and the human condition.
Yes, college is expensive. However, there are plenty of resources out there to help students and their parents defray the cost of education. Look for federal, private, and college-based financial aid programs available to make college affordable. In addition, there are well over 4,000 postsecondary institutions in the United States alone. While some of the big names cost over $60,000 annually, there are many, many more that are very affordable, including local state schools.
At the end of the day, only you can make the decision about what is right for you. However, I often ask students to think through their goals. What do you hope to accomplish in ten years? Will a degree make those goals easier to achieve? Ask yourself these questions and think hard about your future to determine whether the expense of college is worth achieving those goals. For many, the answer is yes.