Does College Matter?

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College does matter and is absolutely worth it - if you choose a program that matches your career goals, graduate on time, and avoid too much debt.

Almost every job that leads to a promising career, with good pay and benefits, requires education or training beyond high school. For most high-paying professional jobs, that means a four-year college degree.

At the same time, career training or short-term educational programs for a growing number of technical fields can pay off, too.

For many, the question is: college or trade school?

Is college worth the cost?

If you stick with your studies and graduate in a reasonable time, college is worth the cost. The vast majority of college graduates are better off financially than their peers who didn’t complete college. College degrees are still in high demand from employers, and completing college is a strong sign that you’re ready for high-skilled work.

The key is finding a school where you’re likely to graduate and finish with low or modest debt. The national average is about $29,400 , which most graduates are able to pay off because their degree helped them earn a well-paying job. You can find detailed information about college graduation rates, the real cost of college over time, and how potential earnings vary by career field at And you can give yourself the opportunity to save time and money toward a degree while you’re in high school by scoring a 3 or higher on an AP Exam to earn college credit .

Students can get into trouble when they don’t graduate, or when they take on significant debt before they’re able to finish. Many college students don’t graduate on time, which makes a degree more expensive. Or they don’t finish at all, which means they don’t get the benefit of higher earnings.

Finishing college is the single most important thing you can do to make it affordable. Students who leave college without graduating are the most likely to have trouble with debt and future employment. As many as 4 in 10 students who start a 4-year degree program don’t finish in 6 years. Colleges with more resources, like generous financial aid funding, good counselors, and mentoring programs, typically have a better track record of graduating their students on time and with low debt.

What about career or technical training?

There are valuable training and credential options available, but there are also a lot of expensive programs that don’t add much to your résumé. It’s important to know what kind of training is most valuable for your planned career field.

Specific training programs in fields like construction, manufacturing, and healthcare can lead to immediate job opportunities and above-average pay. Job training credentials offered by community colleges, often in partnership with local employers, are some of the highest-rated programs.

Some larger tech companies like IBM, Google, and Apple will accept proof of specific coding or data analytics skills for entry-level jobs. However, they still normally require college degrees for higher-level positions.

Building a long-term career—taking on more responsibility, managing other people, earning more money—is often easier for those with both a college degree and industry-specific credentials. Employers usually see a college degree as meaning you have a set of flexible skills, like critical thinking and communication. Industry-specific credentials are a sign that you have hard skills like coding or database management.

Together, they make a stronger case that you’re ready for skilled work than either alone. Unless you have a very clear sense of your dream job and its required training programs, it’s generally better to pursue both college and industry credentials.

Should I go to college?

Thinking clearly about your goals and college options can help you make the right choice. Feeling confident about your next step after high school, whether that’s college or a high-value career path, will set you up for success.

Many variables affect your life and career, and it’s impossible to plan and predict all of them. It’s most important to find a field that genuinely interests you, then get all the valuable education and training you can in that field. Here are some tips on how to be successful after high school:

  • Take classes in college or through a training program.
  • Pursue internships with companies or organizations that can give you experience in your chosen field.
  • Cultivate mentors who have built careers that interest you and ask how they did it.

You’re much more likely to complete a worthwhile degree or training program if you’re working toward a life and a job you’ll love. Focus on the future you want and be open to different options for getting there.

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Why College is Important Essay

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Many high school graduates tend to ask a lot of questions concerning the importance and relevance of college education. The current education system has made it difficult for one to access any meaningful employment without being a college graduate. The desire to make quick money after gradating from high school has made many high school graduates to be skeptical about higher education (Warren 35).

Although many high school graduates may secure employment without college education, the truth of the matter is that they have limited opportunities. The earning potential in today’s economy is highly dependent on one’s academic credentials. Despite college education being costly and time consuming, its benefits have no limits.

The idea of venturing into income generation directly after high school may be an appealing thought to many high school graduates but the truth of the matter is that lack of higher education can not guarantee them a bright future (Warren 35). This paper will discuss why college education is important to all high school graduates.

The first reason why college education is important to a person is the number of opportunities they are bound to have with their college degree or diploma. The job market has become very completive in recent times as compared to previous years. The many opportunities that high school graduates used to get are no longer available due increased competition and the ever changing economic trends (Wilson 71). Many economies across the world have changed from being manufacturing based to knowledge based.

Many employers are looking for qualified professionals who can bring fresh ideas to the company. This gives high school graduates little room to survive in the current job market. College qualifications help employers to set standards for a particular job as well in identifying the right candidate for a particular job (Wilson 78).

College education presents one with a perfect opportunity to read many books with thought provoking content (Gardner 122). These materials are vey useful for social, economic and economic growth. Many companies use advanced technology in their operations which forces them to hire qualified college graduates.

It is always a great risk for company to gamble with high school graduates during recruitment. Colleges normally invite experts from different fields to lecture students on different issues. By listening from different experts, one is always in a better position to explore different ideas.

The most knowledgeable people teach in colleges and therefore students have the privilege of being taught by the best intellectuals that the country can offer. Having a mind that is open to new ideas and development gives college graduates a competitive edge in the crowded job market (Gardner 123).

By interacting with people from different professional backgrounds, one is in a better position to learn new things that makes them to be all round graduates. A well developed intellectual mind is the key to making the right decisions. The college experience offers additional social and intellectual growth that is needed in the current job market.

College education equips one with the required resources for working. College is a perfect place to get the right contacts and connections that might be very useful when looking for a job (Levine 67).

The more the connections made at college, the higher the probability of getting a better job. After being employed, college graduates have a great advantage when it comes to promotion. Employers will always seek to promote employees with good academic qualifications. College education is therefore very important for career development.

The knowledge gained in college is always very useful in starting one’s business (Levine 67). Running a business without any professional training is always a great challenge and it is normally hard for one to exploit their full potential. High school education does not teach the relevant skills that are fundamental in the current job market.

It is important to note that the importance of college education is not entirely restricted on jobs and career growth. The college experience provides one with a perfect opportunity to socialize at a higher level and in the process improving their social life. At college, one is able to interact with people from different cultures, nationalities and races.

These interactions create mutual respect as one learns how to tolerate what they are not used to (Warren 65). Colleges have got serious clubs and associations that provide a good platform for leadership development and participation in activities that are beneficial to the society.

In conclusion, it is mandatory to have college education in order to survive in the current job market. The importance of college education was not clear in the previous years because of the many job opportunities that were always available for high school graduates at the time.

The increasing number of college graduates has made it even more difficult for high school dropouts to have any real opportunities. Apart from producing graduates with a greater earning potential, college education has also proved to be important in the social and mental development of a person. The college experience equips one with vital life skills that high school education can not offer.

Works Cited

Gardner, John. Your College Experience: Strategies for Success. New York: Cengage Learning, 2008. Print.

Levine, Daniel. Society and Education. New York: Allyn and Bacon, 1992. Print.

Warren, Elizabeth. 2 Income Trap . New York: Basic Books, 2004. Print.

Wilson, Gwenn. 100% Student Success. New York: Cengage Learning, 2011. Print.

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Top 7 Reasons Why College is Important

A graduate wearing a cap and gown, holding up her diploma at an SNHU Commencement ceremony

Understanding the Numbers When reviewing job growth and salary information, it’s important to remember that actual numbers can vary due to many different factors — like years of experience in the role, industry of employment, geographic location, worker skill and economic conditions. Cited projections do not guarantee actual salary or job growth.

With more and more careers requiring advanced education, a college degree can be critical to your success in today's workforce. Research indicates that earning a degree can have a significant and expansive impact on your life. It also has the potential to help you positively impact your family — and the world.

Here are 7 reasons why college could be important for you. 

1. Earn More on Average

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that workers with a postsecondary degree typically earn more than those with only a high school education.* The median weekly earnings — or the middle amount in a set of data — for people with an associate degree  was $1,005 per week in 2022, according to BLS.* That's an increase of $152 per week or over $7,000 more per year than those with only a high school diploma.*

Workers with a bachelor's degree  earned a median of $1,432 weekly, BLS reports — $497 more per week than workers without a postsecondary education and an increase of more than $25,000 per year.* A master's degree  helped workers earn even more at a median of $1,661 per week, BLS notes, $808 more weekly than those with only a high school diploma and almost $42,000 more per year.* 

2. Increase Chances of Employment

It's not uncommon to see "bachelor's degree required" on job descriptions or listed as a preferred qualification. A 2020 survey, done by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) in collaboration with Hanover Research, found a growing number of employers deem college a good investment. Of those surveyed, 87% cited college as "definitely" or "probably" worth it ( AAC&U PDF source ).

An undergraduate program, which includes associate and bachelor's degrees, offers a combination of general education courses  and specialized learning in a discipline that interests you. With these degrees, you can develop both broad-based and field-specific knowledge.

You may also have a chance to grow important hard and soft skills  by participating in experiential learning opportunities, which are relevant, hands-on experiences you can translate to the professional world. Experiential learning  takes many forms and may exist both in and out of the classroom.

For example, if you're earning a cybersecurity degree , you might join your college's National Cyber League (NCL) team to test your working knowledge of cryptography and other concepts you might encounter while working in a cybersecurity role .

Additional types of experiential learning you might take advantage of in college include project-based assignments that partner with real organizations, internships and student clubs and organizations. You can leverage these valuable experiences on your resume, in your portfolio of work and during job interviews  to show employers that you are a competitive candidate.

Earning a college degree could also lead to greater career stability. According to BLS data, 2.2% of workers with a bachelor’s degree faced unemployment in 2022 compared to 4.0% of workers with only a high school diploma.*

Find Your Program

3. expand your opportunities.

A college degree can be the extra credential you need to land the dream job you've always wanted. Getting your bachelor's degree may also allow you to view your work as a career and not just a job.

A 2016 Pew Research Center report states that 77% of workers with a post-graduate degree and 60% of workers with a bachelor's degree believe their jobs give them a sense of identity, versus just 38% of those with only a high school diploma or less.

This idea still holds today. The Lumina Foundation and Gallup noted in The State of Higher Education 2022 Report that 61% of students enrolled in higher education are getting their degrees to find more fulfilling jobs ( Lumina PDF Source ). 

Victoria Meuse dressed in a graduation cap and gown

Meuse's bachelor's degree in psychology  has been beneficial in her work, and she now wants to earn a master's.

"Right now, I love working at my kids' school. I think that the background in psychology has helped me a lot in understanding the students," said Meuse. "I'm deciding if I want my master's in psychology  or my master's in education , but I'm not done."

4. Prepare for the Future

You can also gain practical life skills as a college student. For example, you will need to meet regular assignment deadlines for each class. The discipline and time management strategies  you learn along the way can be applied to all aspects of your life, whether you're navigating projects at work or your family's busy schedule.

Tara Theis dressed in a graduation cap and gown and to the left of two sons

Since your earning potential is typically greater as a college graduate, your degree may lead toward financial stability for you and your family. Your school's finance counselors can walk you through more than just how to pay for college . With their tips and advice, you may discover helpful budgeting techniques and learn more about financing options and processes that may be relevant to future investments — such as purchasing a car or a home.

Homeowners are increasingly more likely to be college educated. Point2 , an organization that reports on real estate market trends, analyzed U.S. Census data to find that 70% of homeowners in 2020 had some college education and at least 40% had a bachelor's degree. 

Marilynn Hymon-Williams dressed in a graduation cap and gown

5. Build New Relationships

College can be more than just an education;  it can be a place you build all types of new relationships. Initially, you may establish a connection with an academic advisor  — someone who will be there to support you throughout your college experience by scheduling classes, providing direction to university resources, and encouraging and mentoring you for personal success, and more. Faculty — your course instructors — also can provide help with understanding your assignments and what's expected of you as a student. 

Once classes begin, you'll be surrounded by peers. Engaging with your peers through activities like group work or class discussions can be a great way to start a professional network, meet your future partner  and make lasting friendships. 

Patricia Odani Mukuka (left) and Lydia Alonci (right)

The relationships you build in college can go on to become the foundation of your professional network . You may connect with alumni during your time in college. After you graduate, from a you'll also become part of an alumni association. 

An alumni association is full of graduates, known as alumni , who play a major role in a university's community. They give back in a variety of ways including community service, participating and organizing events and mentoring current students, among other ways. Alumni work in a wide range of fields, and establishing a relationship with others in this network could lead to professional opportunities.

6. Achieve Your Personal Goals

John Reck dressed in a graduation cap and gown

Reck is a 1% survivor of a rare infection called septicemia. He's also suffered a heart attack, been in a coma, undergone 18 surgeries and lost the ability to walk and talk.

"Life goes on around you," he said of his time in the hospital during his health scare. "It's lonely." Once Reck was on the road to recovery, he knew his next goal. After 30 years, he would go back to school and this time it was for him.

"School came upon me like a bell," Reck said. "I'm going to go finish my degree, and here I am, alive." He now holds his bachelor's in graphic design . In achieving his personal goal, he has also attained a professional one. He secured his dream job as a graphic designer for a Boston law firm.

Michael Riley (left) and Marlene Riley (right) dressed in graduation caps and gowns

Recent graduates Marlene Riley '22 and Michael Riley '18 '22MBA , wife and husband, walked across the stage together. Marlene is an immigrant from Peru, and Michael is a veteran, and both are first-generation  college students. Finishing their degrees was a personal goal they were able to achieve together, and it was even more special sharing the stage at Commencement. 

"He is my team, and we did it together," said Marlene.

7. Make a Difference

Earning your college degree can improve the lives of those around you, too. The College Board's 2019 report on the benefits of higher education for individuals and society notes that college graduates are more likely to donate money to charity organizations, volunteer and vote ( College Board PDF Source ).

Some colleges encourage students to give back by organizing volunteer opportunities. SNHU holds an annual community service initiative, Global Days of Service . Over 1,200 students served 135 organizations in 2022. A new nonprofit even formed as a result. 

SNHU student Cassi Key reading a children's book about bees aloud.

Like Key, you might be galvanized to make a difference in the world after graduating from college. Many students learn about topics like social change  or environmental sustainability  throughout their degrees and go on to make an impact in an increasing number of ways.

A TIME magazine article notes that higher education is rapidly working to improve climate education in many fields, including architecture, economics and law. As a result of this new emphasis on ecology and sustainability in higher education, graduates from various areas of study are now applying their knowledge to improve sustainability practices and address climate change in several sectors. You can also get a degree focusing on these issues directly. For instance, SNHU offers a degree in environmental science  and a degree in geosciences  with opportunities to prepare for a career in sustainability and conservation.

Higher education can give you the chance to make a difference in other ways, too. You can get a degree in a field that will help you improve people's lives.

Some programs of study focused on helping others are:

  • Degrees in education
  • Degrees in healthcare
  • Degrees in human services
  • Degrees in nursing
  • Degrees in psychology and counseling

College can also broaden your horizons by introducing you to a diverse range of perspectives. A chance to engage with other viewpoints can lead you to better understand people who are different from you and situations you have never personally encountered. This may lead to heightened empathy , improve your communication skills and help grow your confidence as you strive to make the world a better place.

A degree can change your life. Find the SNHU online degree  that can best help you meet your goals. 

*Cited job growth projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth. Actual salaries and/or earning potential may be the result of a combination of factors including, but not limited to: years of experience, industry of employment, geographic location, and worker skill.

**Survey Methodology: This survey was conducted online within the United States by Kantar on behalf of Southern New Hampshire University in December of 2021. Opinions from 500 general population respondents were obtained using their omnibus survey. For complete survey methodology, please contact Megan Bond at  [email protected] .

Danielle Gagnon is a freelance writer focused on higher education. Connect with her on LinkedIn .

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About southern new hampshire university.

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SNHU is a nonprofit, accredited university with a mission to make high-quality education more accessible and affordable for everyone.

Founded in 1932, and online since 1995, we’ve helped countless students reach their goals with flexible, career-focused programs . Our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH is home to over 3,000 students, and we serve over 135,000 students online. Visit our about SNHU  page to learn more about our mission, accreditations, leadership team, national recognitions and awards.

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Table of Contents

  • 1. Changes in the American workplace
  • 2. How Americans assess the job situation today and prospects for the future
  • 3. How Americans view their jobs
  • 4. Skills and training needed to compete in today’s economy
  • Acknowledgments
  • Methodology

An extensive body of research has argued that obtaining a college diploma is a good deal for graduates on almost any measure – from higher earnings to lower unemployment rates. By the same token, those without a college degree can find their upward mobility in the job market limited by a lack of educational credentials: This survey finds that one-third of Americans who lack a four-year college degree report that they have declined to apply for a job they felt they were qualified for, because that job required a bachelor’s degree.

But despite the potential benefits and opportunities available to college graduates – and the potential challenges faced by those who lack a college diploma – Americans have somewhat mixed attitudes about the effectiveness of traditional four-year colleges and other higher education institutions. On a personal level, many college graduates describe their own educational experience as having a generally positive impact on their personal and professional development. Roughly six-in-ten (62%) college graduates with two- or four-year degrees think their degree was very useful for helping them grow personally and intellectually, while roughly half think it was very useful for opening up job opportunities (53%) or for providing them with useful job-related skills and knowledge (49%).

Yet even as many college graduates view their own educational experience in positive terms, the public as a whole – including a substantial share of college graduates – expresses reservations about the extent to which various higher education institutions prepare students for the workforce more generally. Just 16% of Americans think that a four-year degree prepares students very well for a well-paying job in today’s economy, and 51% say this type of degree prepares students “somewhat well” for the workplace. Some 12% think that a two-year associate degree prepares students very well (46% say somewhat well), and 26% feel that certification programs in a professional, technical, or vocational field prepare students very well (52% say somewhat well).

The purpose of college: Americans view workforce-relevant skills and knowledge as more important than personal and intellectual growth

Americans’ views of what a college education should be tend to prioritize specific, workplace-related skills and knowledge rather than general intellectual development and personal growth. Half of Americans say that the main purpose of college should be to teach specific skills and knowledge that can be used in the workplace, while 35% think its main purpose should be to help students grow and develop personally and intellectually and 13% volunteer that these objectives are equally important. The public’s views on this issue have shifted slightly in favor of skills development since the last time Pew Research Center asked this question in 2011. At that point, 47% said main purpose of college should be to teach specific skills and knowledge and 39% said it should be to promote personal and intellectual growth.

why is college important essay

Americans who have engaged in additional schooling beyond a bachelor’s degree are especially likely to say that the main purpose of college should be personal and intellectual growth, rather than the acquisition of specific skills and knowledge. Some 47% of those with a postgraduate or professional degree think the main purpose of college should be personal and intellectual growth, while 35% think it should be teaching workplace-relevant skills.

In contrast, those with limited college experience (or no college experience at all) are more likely to prioritize the development of specific skills over general intellectual improvement. For instance, 56% of Americans with a high school diploma or less say college should be primarily a place to develop specific work-oriented knowledge and skills, while just 31% see it primarily as a place for personal and intellectual growth.

There is also a partisan element to these views, with Republicans and Democrats expressing highly differing opinions on the purpose of college. Democrats (including Democratic-leaning independents) are about evenly split on which of these objectives is more important: 42% say colleges should prioritize personal and intellectual growth, while 43% say they should prioritize the development of workforce-relevant skills. But among Republicans and Republican leaners, 58% say that the main purpose of college should be teach specific skills – while just 28% feel that the main purpose should be general personal and intellectual growth.

These partisan differences hold true even after accounting for differences in educational attainment. Democrats and Democratic leaners with high levels of educational attainment are more likely to prioritize personal and intellectual growth relative to Democrats and Democratic leaners with lower levels of educational attainment.

why is college important essay

But Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents at all educational levels are more likely than Republicans and Republican-leaning independents with similar levels of education to believe that personal and intellectual growth should be the main purpose of college.

Along with Democrats and those who have progressed beyond a bachelor’s degree, younger adults (those ages 18 to 29) are more likely than older adults to feel that personal and intellectual growth should be the primary purpose of college: some 43% of 18- to 29-year olds feel this way, compared with roughly one-third of those in older age groups.

In addition, Americans who themselves work in the education field tend to place a greater emphasis on personal and intellectual growth as the primary purpose of college: 46% believe that this should be the main purpose of a college degree, while 35% believe that college should mainly be a place to develop specific skills and knowledge (19% of those who work in the education industry consider them equally important).

Most college graduates regard their college experience as very useful for intellectual growth; views are more mixed when it comes to job opportunities and marketable skills

When asked to assess certain aspects of their own educational experience, about six-in-ten (62%) college graduates (including those who graduated from a two-year degree program) feel that their time in college was very useful in helping them grow personally and intellectually. About half say their college experience was very useful in helping them access job opportunities (53%) or in helping them develop skills and knowledge they could use in the workplace (49%).

why is college important essay

The further people have progressed in their college career, the more likely they are to consider their experience very useful. Those with a postgraduate or professional degree are more likely to say that their college education was very useful in each of these respects compared with four-year degree holders, who are in turn more likely than those with a two-year associate degree to say that their education was very useful across each of these measures. For example, while two-thirds of those with a postgraduate or professional degree say their college education was very useful in opening doors to job opportunities, 56% of those with a four-year degree, and an even smaller share (40%) among those with a two-year degree, say the same. And while 57% of those with more than a bachelor’s degree say college was very useful in helping them develop marketable skills, about half or a smaller share among those with a four- or two-year degree hold this view (49% and 43%, respectively).

why is college important essay

When it comes to helping them grow professionally and intellectually, majorities of those with a postgraduate or professional degree (77%) and those with a bachelor’s degree (64%) say college was very useful, compared with 46% of those with a two-year college degree.

Americans have mixed views about the extent to which college prepares students for a well-paying job in today’s economy

When asked a broader set of questions about the impact of college more generally, the public expresses somewhat mixed views about the extent to which a college education prepares students for success in the workforce.

Two-thirds of Americans (67%) think that a traditional four-year degree prepares students for a well-paying job in today’s economy at least somewhat well, but just 16% think it prepares them very well, and 29% think it does not prepare them well. A somewhat smaller share of Americans (58%) think that a two-year community college degree prepares students for a well-paying job either very (12%) or somewhat (46%) well, while 38% think that these programs do not prepare students well.

why is college important essay

Interestingly, Americans with a four-year college degree are generally no more positive – or negative – than those with less education about the relationship between a four-year degree and a well-paying job: 13% of those with a bachelor’s degree or more education say a four-year degree prepares people very well, as do 11% of those with a two-year associate degree, 12% of those with some college experience but no degree, and 17% of those with a high school diploma. Among those who did not complete high school, however, 40% believe that a four-year college degree does a very good job of preparing people for a well-paying job.

When it comes to assessments of a two-year college degree, about one-in-six (16%) Americans who hold this type of degree say it prepares workers very well for a well-paying job. This is considerably larger than the share of those with at least a bachelor’s degree (7%) who say a two-year degree prepares people very well, but not necessarily more positive than the views of those with less education.

Blacks and Hispanics are more likely than whites to say four- and two-year degrees prepare people very well for a job in today’s economy. For example, about three-in-ten (29%) Hispanics and about a quarter (24%) of blacks say this about a four-year degree, compared with 12% of whites. And while about one-in-five blacks and Hispanics (18% each) say a two-year associate degree prepares people very well, one-in-ten whites share this view.

These findings are consistent with previous Pew Research Center surveys that found that black and Latino parents view college as more essential for their children’s success than do white parents.

why is college important essay

A substantially larger share of the public has positive attitudes towards certification programs in a professional, technical or vocational field in the context of workforce development. Some 78% of Americans think that these programs prepare students well for a job in today’s economy, including 26% who think they prepare students very well. Just roughly one-in-five (19%) think they do not prepare students well. It is important to note, however, that respondents were not asked about the effectiveness of certification programs instead of a college education.

Positive assessments of certificate programs as a way to prepare workers for jobs in today’s economy are particularly widespread among those who did not complete high school; 44% in this group say these types of programs prepare people very well, compared with about a quarter (27%) of those with a high school diploma and a similar share of those with some college, but no degree (22%), a two-year degree (28%), or a four-year degree or more education (22%). Certificate programs are also particularly well-regarded among Hispanics, 39% of whom say they prepare people very well for a good job in today’s economy. About a quarter of blacks (25%) and whites (23%) say the same.

One-third of Americans without a bachelor’s degree have elected to not apply for a job they felt they were qualified for because it required a four-year degree

why is college important essay

Recent research has argued that there is a “ credentials gap ” in today’s workforce, as employers increasingly require a bachelor’s degree for positions that did not demand this level of schooling in the past. And the survey finds that 33% of Americans who do not have a four-year college degree report that they have declined to apply for a job they felt they were qualified for, because it required a bachelor’s degree.

Americans who have engaged in some type of formal education beyond high school (short of obtaining a bachelor’s degree) are particularly likely to believe they’ve been adversely affected by credentialing requirements as they work their way up the educational ladder. Some 25% of Americans with a high school diploma or less and no additional schooling beyond that have not applied for a job because of a bachelor’s degree requirement. But that figure rises to 34% among those with a high school diploma plus additional vocational schooling, to 38% among those with some college experience but no degree, and to 44% among those with a two-year associate degree. Put somewhat differently, as people receive additional formal education without actually obtaining a bachelor’s degree, they may develop relevant skills without the on-paper credentials to match.

In addition, adults younger than 50 are much more likely than older adults to have refrained from applying to a job they felt they were qualified for because they didn’t meet the formal educational requirements. About four-in-ten non-college graduates ages 18 to 29 (41%) and ages 30 to 49 (44%) say this has happened, compared with 31% of those ages 50 to 64 and just 12% of those 65 and older.

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Admit-a-bull // official admissions blog, why a college education is important.

By Joe Emerson | Last Updated: Jul 15, 2022

why is college important essay

Defining why a college education is important involves more than just identifying the superficial benefits of more career opportunities. At a deeper level, college is where you will map a path through life that can take you to places you never expected to go.

The beauty of postsecondary education is that college can yield tangible and intangible benefits for you that in turn benefit others – even if school doesn’t awaken your sleeping Pablo Picasso, Stephen Hawking, or Bill Gates.

Tangible Benefits of a College Education

It’s well established that a college education delivers measurable material benefits. If you were to rattle off the list of reasons you’re attending school, chances are these are the first ones you’ll mention.

College Education and Wages

A handful of money definitely qualifies as a tangible benefit, and research has matched levels of education to payroll expectations and the ability to find a job:

  • In 2015, bachelor’s degree holders earned 64 percent more than those with a high school diploma.
  • Bachelor’s degree recipients can expect to earn about $1 million more over a lifetime than a person who doesn’t go to college.
  • A postsecondary education is expected to be required for about two-thirds of available jobs by 2020.

A recent study broke the higher education benefits down even further, finding among other things, that a bachelor’s degree now means the holder will earn 84 percent more than someone with no postsecondary education. The report went even further, projecting lifetime earnings based on virtually all education levels:

  • Lifetime wages of a high school dropout – $973,000
  • Lifetime wages of a high school graduate – $1.3 million
  • Lifetime wages of someone with some college but no degree – $1.5 million
  • Lifetime wages of an associate degree holder – $1.7 million
  • Lifetime wages of a bachelor’s degree holder – $2.3 million
  • Lifetime wages of a master’s degree holder – $2.7 million
  • Lifetime wages of a person with a doctorate – $3.3 million
  • Lifetime wages of a professional degree holder –$3.6 million

Based on U.S. Census Bureau data , the usual median weekly earnings in 2017 for people of varying education levels was:

  • Doctoral degree holder’s median weekly earnings – $1,743
  • Professional degree holder’s median weekly earnings – $1,836
  • Master’s degree holder’s median weekly earnings – $1,401
  • Bachelor’s degree holder’s median weekly earnings – $1,173
  • Associate degree holder’s median weekly earnings – $836
  • Person with some college (no degree) median weekly earnings – $774
  • High school diploma (only) holder’s median weekly earnings – $712
  • Person without high school diploma median weekly earnings – $520

The unemployment rates in 2017 for people in those education categories was 1.5 percent for doctoral degree holders, 1.5 percent for professional degree holders, 2.2 percent for master’s degree holders, 2.5 percent for bachelor’s degree holders, 3.4 percent for associate degree holders, 4 percent for people with some college, 4.6 percent for people with a high school diploma, and 6.5 percent for people without a high school diploma.

Better Jobs Equal Better Benefits, Perks

A college education also usually translates to great benefits and perks as well:

  • Typical white-collar benefits: health insurance, eyecare insurance, vacation and other paid time off, dental insurance, maternity/paternity leave, pension plan, 401(k)
  • Potential white-collar perks: transportation and parking reimbursement and/or company car, free food and beverages, flexible schedules and freedom to work from home (or elsewhere), concierge services, golden parachutes (high-dollar severance packages)

For Some, College Is the First Real Adventure

College takes you out of familiar surroundings and presents new challenges. But college doesn’t only pave the way for intangible experiences. Adapting to new faces in a fresh place is just the start. The education process can mean internships, overseas travel, exciting research opportunities, and exploration of multiple career paths, all of which can lead to some very tangible results when you start working.

And academic success opens doors to careers where, quite literally in some cases, even the sky and moon aren’t the limits. Think aerospace engineering.

Connections that Can Last a Lifetime

The thousands of people you meet, study with, and work alongside in college will range from peers to mentors, along with power players in your chosen field and others. These are connections you will make note of and potentially use to advance yourself and your ideas.

And as far as relationships go, the only romantic label as common as “high school sweetheart” is “college sweetheart.”

USF students at graduation.

Intangible Benefits of a College Education

A college education can open doors for your career and your own personal growth. For example, college helps develop many important skills, such as self-awareness, global-mindedness, critical thinking, and more.

People by Nature Desire Knowledge

That is a paraphrase of a premise that the Greek philosopher Aristotle states in his Metaphysics . It is affirmed by the connection of head and heart when the study of history helps you forecast the future, when math adds up to real-life solutions, and when the development of skills allows you to produce a masterpiece worthy of the Library of Congress, Metropolitan Museum of Art, or U.S. Patent Office.

In Pursuit of Critical Thinking

Results are in on colleges and critical thinking. During one recent study , researchers began with the notion that everyone wants colleges to teach critical-thinking skills and that the challenge routinely is accepted. Here’s a key finding: Data show that a student who begins college with critical thinking skills in the 50 th percentile can expect to be in the 72 nd percentile after four years.

Critical thinking is, according to the Foundation for Critical Thinking , “that mode of thinking — about any subject, content, or problem — in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully analyzing, assessing, and reconstructing it.” Developing that skill yields endless opportunities to enrich your life both personally and professionally.

College Advances Self-Realization

A college education, if pursued honestly and earnestly, gives you the knowledge and skills needed to pursue a career and your passions. The degree also can bring hard-to-match personal satisfaction. A huge part of ensuring that self-realization process is finding a school that is right for you , where you’ll feel safe and comfortable enough to let yourself grow and explore.

Our USF admissions advisors are happy to answer your questions about the USF admissions process, so contact us online or by phone at 813-974-3350 .

Joe Emerson

About Joe Emerson

Joe Emerson spent 30 years as a magazine and newspaper reporter, editor and copyeditor who turned to freelancing after 20 years with The Tampa Tribune, which closed in 2016 after 125 years of serving the Tampa Bay area. Writing and delivering valuable information remain his passion.

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Why College is Important to Me

  • University: University of California, Berkeley

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Words: 665 |

Published: Feb 15, 2024

Words: 665 | Pages: 1 | 4 min read

College education has always been considered a vital milestone in one's life, and it holds immense significance for me as well. From an early age, I have been fervently passionate about acquiring knowledge, seeking intellectual growth, and expanding my horizons. College serves as the ideal platform to fulfill these aspirations, providing opportunities for personal, academic, and professional development that are unparalleled. In this essay, I will delve into the reasons why college is crucial to me, exploring its potential to shape my future and contribute to my overall growth.

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First and foremost, college offers a unique learning environment that fosters intellectual growth and critical thinking. It is a realm where I can immerse myself in a diverse range of subjects, explore my passions, and develop a deeper understanding of the world. The college curriculum exposes students to various disciplines, enabling them to gain a broader perspective and engage in interdisciplinary learning. This not only enhances their knowledge but also strengthens their analytical and problem-solving skills.

Moreover, college provides a stimulating atmosphere where I can engage in meaningful discussions and debates with professors and peers who share similar interests. These interactions challenge my ideas, broaden my perspectives, and push me to think outside the box. College education encourages the development of a questioning mindset, enabling me to question assumptions, challenge conventions, and seek innovative solutions to complex problems.

Another crucial aspect of college is the opportunity it offers for personal growth and self-discovery. College is a time of exploration, where I can discover my passions, talents, and values. It allows me to break out of my comfort zone, interact with individuals from diverse backgrounds, and foster a sense of empathy and understanding. College provides a supportive network of mentors, advisors, and peers who encourage personal growth and self-reflection. This nurturing environment helps shape my character, instills resilience, and equips me with essential life skills.

Furthermore, college plays a pivotal role in preparing me for the professional world. In today's highly competitive job market, a college degree has become increasingly essential for securing a promising career. College education equips me with the necessary knowledge and skills demanded by employers, increasing my employability and career prospects. Through internships, co-op programs, and career development services, colleges provide valuable opportunities for practical experience, networking, and professional growth.

Additionally, college education facilitates the development of essential soft skills, such as effective communication, critical thinking, teamwork, and leadership. These skills are not only vital for professional success but also for personal and social interactions. College acts as a training ground, allowing me to hone these skills through group projects, presentations, and extracurricular activities. Moreover, the diverse range of student organizations and clubs on campus provides avenues for pursuing hobbies, cultivating leadership qualities, and fostering a well-rounded personality.

Besides academic and professional aspects, college also enables personal and intellectual independence. It empowers me to make informed choices, take responsibility for my decisions, and develop a sense of autonomy. Living away from home in a college environment forces me to adapt to new situations, manage my time efficiently, and learn to prioritize effectively. These experiences foster a sense of self-reliance and resilience, preparing me for the challenges that lie ahead in both personal and professional realms.

Lastly, college offers a plethora of opportunities for networking and building lifelong connections. It brings together individuals from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives, opening doors to new friendships and collaborations. These connections can extend beyond college years, forming a valuable professional network that can boost career prospects and provide support throughout my professional journey.

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In conclusion, college holds immense importance to me due to its potential to shape my future and contribute to holistic growth. It provides a unique learning environment that nurtures intellectual curiosity, promotes personal growth, and prepares me for the professional world. College education equips me with indispensable skills, broadens my perspectives, and empowers me to become a lifelong learner. It is not just a stepping stone to a successful career but also a transformative journey that molds me into a well-rounded individual.

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Home / Essay Samples / Life / Why is College Important / Why College Education Is Important

Why College Education Is Important

  • Category: Education , Life
  • Topic: College Education , Graduation , Why is College Important

Pages: 2 (1130 words)

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  • Malik, S., & Courtney, K. (2011). Higher education and women’s empowerment in Pakistan. Gender and Education, 23(1), 29-45.Retrieved from
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  • Sandy, B., & Kathleen, P. (2005). The benefits of higher education for individuals and society. Education pays 2013, trends in higher education series, 7.Retrieved from
  • Rose, R. (2013, 11 ). The value of college degree. Retrieved from
  • Wang, W. (2011, 08 17). How important is a college education? Retrieved from www.pwesicialtrends.ord:

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