A college degree can do a lot to enhance your life. It can improve your quality of life way beyond the cost of time and money initially invested (Source). Yet many people are weary of taking on debt and are impatient to start working straight away, as soon as they leave school.
To some, this is a good thing. As their chosen career doesn’t require a college education, and they can start climbing the career ladder straight away. But for others, it can have a seriously limiting effect on their life prospects, and can lead to a life of regret.
So, is it worth it? Is the risk of not going to college worse than the missed years of working and the cost of tuition?
1) Earn a much higher lifetime income
People with a good education can expect to earn more than people who do not have one. That’s a fact based on verifiable and unbiased statistics. Of course money isn’t everything, but it can go a long way to improving the quality of your life.
It’s easy to say: “money doesn’t matter”. Especially when you’re financially secure. However, when you are faced with crippling debt, or your house is at risk of being foreclosed, you can bet that money does matter. Like it or not, money – or the lack of money – determines pretty much every aspect of our lives. It determines where we live, what we eat, where we vacation, our risk of falling foul of crime and where our children are educated.
When you’re a young high-school leaver; it’s not always apparent just how hard it is to earn a good living. Twenty years stuck in a dead-end job; struggling to keep your head above water might change your mind somewhat. If you have the opportunity to secure your future by obtaining a college education; then you should absolutely jump at that opportunity. Because there’s many people in the world who never get that chance.
How much more can you expect to earn? Well, the numbers are quite phenomenal, almost unbelievable but they’re absolutely accurate. The Wall Street Journal reports that people with a college education (not necessarily a degree) earn nearly 3 times more than those who did not graduate high-school. And those that did graduate high-school do not fare much better when compared to college grads. A high-school grad can expect to earn $1.7 million over the course of their career. A college grad with an Associate’s Degree can expect to earn $2.2 million. A college grad with a Bachelor’s Degree can expect to earn $3.3 million – which is more than double the lifetime earning of a high-school graduate. This puts the price of a college degree into perspective (Source).
2) Higher social and physical mobility.
If you want to emigrate to Australia to do a lucrative, well-paying job; then you’ll probably need a relevant college degree to even be allowed to work in the country. If you want to work in management; then you’ll probably need a college education. In fact; if you want to do pretty much anything where you’re entrusted with more responsibility than the average worker; you’re probably going to need a college education.
One of the most frustrating things about being intelligent – yet stuck in a dead-end job – is the lack of responsibility. The firm you’re working for has no evidence of your intelligence, so they have to assume you are not that smart. Which means no choice, no input, and no innovation in how you carry out your work. In effect, you are placed with the lowest common denominator. You are treated exactly the same as someone who may have half your intellect.
If you want to rise above this, it’s no longer an option in many careers to work your way up from the “shop-floor”. You’re going to need a degree. Whether that’s right or wrong is immaterial, it’s a fact (Source).
3) Education broadens the mind.
Yes it’s a cliché, but it’s a cliché because it’s true. It can open your mind up to methods of critical thinking that may not have been possible otherwise. It may help you articulate your thought more meaningfully.
If you want to write a letter to your congressman, he will probably pay far more attention to the content if it’s well-written. Likewise, if you’re applying for a job; your covering letter and C.V will stand more chance of being seriously looked-at if it is well-written.
Of course it’s not just your written English that will improve; but also your knowledge of your chosen subject. If something truly interests you, then you should learn every aspect about it at the highest-level (Source).
4) Don’t miss out on college life.
Though it may seem trivial, one of the biggest regrets of non-college attendees is that they missed out on some of the best years of their life. These are formative years when many people experience new things for the first time, get to meet new people and travel to new places.
Partying isn’t the be-all and end-all of college, but if you’re gone straight into work, it’s hard not to look at college students with envious eyes (Source).
5) You’re more likely to be doing a career you love.
Whatever your chosen career, having a relevant degree in that subject means that you are more likely to be employed in that field.
Consider the following scenario:
You are an employer interviewing two different people for a lucrative and highly competitive software engineer position. Both have designed apps of roughly equal quality and both have a portfolio of interesting work. Yet one is a computer science graduate and the other has a slightly better portfolio of past-work examples but no degree. If all else is equal; you’re going to choose the person with the qualification; as the one without may have gaps in their knowledge. Even if they are brilliant, intelligent and highly capable, as an employer you cannot take that risk.
Now say these two people decided to become entrepreneurs and set out on their own instead of work for a company. Again the person with the degree is at an advantage. Because investors will be more likely to finance someone with a college education. The college educated person will also have made like-minded contacts that can help during their education.
So with all these factors considered, a college degree is totally worth it.