To attend or not to attend college-it's a question that plagues many graduating high school students. Should they head to college? Are there actually any benefits to higher education, or are they just going to end up with nothing more than a pile of debt by the time they graduate?
While it's only natural to feel this way given the rising costs of a college education, it's still important that a decision of this magnitude be taken only after analyzing the benefits, both tangible and intangible, of pursuing a higher education. The following are some of the most important ways a higher education can benefit you.
More Job Opportunities
The recession-hit generation may find it hard to believe, but a college education can actually open up more employment opportunities. According to a survey conducted by the Department of Labor in 2009, the unemployment rate among those with only a high school diploma was almost 10 percent, while the rate of unemployment for those with a college degree was, in comparison, only 6.8 percent. (bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm)
Why? Simply because trained and qualified college graduates are usually sought after by employers across all industries and positions, particularly in the aftermath of the economic slowdown.
The Department of Labor also found that the 2009 average weekly income of those who only had a high school diploma was $626, while graduates of bachelor's degree programs earned $1,025 on average per week.
The weekly median earnings of those who had graduate degrees was even higher, at $1,257 per week for the same period. (bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm)
Among the many benefits of higher education is that it can prepare students for the professional world. A college degree often indicates an increased level of competency in your field. But pursuing a college degree can also help students get the practical, experience they need to be successful once they graduate. A number of college degree programs, especially ones that train graduates for specific vocations, require the completion of a practicum or externship. Summer internship programs, which provide students a chance to work in the corporate world, are also often available. Plus, many colleges work to establish relationships with businesses in the area, in order to give students greater opportunities to find work in their field of study.
But college is not just about better jobs and potentially fatter paychecks. College education also plays a role in the overall development of a person. The kind of global exposure and intellectual stimulation a college education can provide is hard to find anywhere else. It can transform raw high school graduates into sophisticated, experienced individuals with the skills to match.
Higher education can give shape to a student's personality, boost self-esteem, and raise status in society. According to some studies, college could be one of the biggest contributors to improving not only a person's quality of life, but their community as well. A report from The College Board shows that college graduates show higher rates of volunteering, voting, and donating blood, as well as "socially valuable behaviors," such as respect for outside opinions. (collegeboard.com/prod_downloads/about/news_info/cbsenior/yr2007/ed-pays-2007.pdf)