Why you should go to College & how to get the most out of it

Angel Morales

For some, a college education is nothing more than the next step in life. For others, it represents the culmination of a lifetime of sacrifices. Regardless of where you stand, this article will help you understand why a college education is important, and how to get the most out of it.

Going to college is a personal choice that depends on individual goals, circumstances, and preferences. However, there are several potential benefits to attending college that may make it a worthwhile investment for some individuals:

  1. Career preparation
    College can provide you with the education and skills needed to pursue a specific career path or industry. Many jobs today require at least a bachelor's degree, and having a college degree can increase your job prospects and earning potential.

  2. Personal growth and development
    College can also provide you with opportunities for personal growth and development, both academically and socially. You can gain new perspectives, knowledge, and skills that can help you become a more well-rounded individual.

  3. Networking
    College can provide you with the opportunity to meet people from diverse backgrounds and with different experiences and interests. These connections can be valuable for personal and professional development, including job opportunities and referrals.

  4. Higher lifetime earnings
    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, ​workers with a postsecondary degree typically earn more than those with only a high school education. This can lead to better financial stability and opportunities. In 2021, workers with a high school diploma earned a median weekly salary of $809. In contrast, workers with a bachelor's degree earned a median of $1,334 weekly, an increase of more than $27,000 per year. Those with a master's degree earned even more, with workers reporting a median of $1,574 per week,  or just about $40,000 more per year. According to this data, if your professional career lasts 40 years, college graduates will make 84% more than those with a high school diploma. You could have the potential to earn over $1 million more with a bachelor's degree or over $1.5 million more with a master's degree than a worker without a postsecondary education.

  1. Personal fulfillment
    Pursuing a college education can also be personally fulfilling and rewarding, both intellectually and emotionally. It can give you a sense of accomplishment and help you achieve personal goals.
  2. Set future generations up for success

    A recent study by the U.S. Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics found that out of all students who enrolled in public four-year universities, 45% had parents with college degrees and 26% did not. Furthermore, one third of first-generation students dropped out of college after three years, compared to 14% of those whose parents did have a degree.

It's important to note that going to college is not the only path to success, and there are many successful people who did not attend college. Ultimately, the decision to attend college should be based on your personal goals, circumstances, and preferences.

If you do, however, choose to go to college, there are many challenges you may face along the way. Getting the most out of college involves a combination of academic success, personal growth, and building meaningful relationships. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your college experience:

  1. Set goals: Set specific and measurable goals for what you want to achieve academically and personally during your time in college. This will help you stay focused and motivated.

  2. Attend classes and participate actively: Attend all your classes and participate actively in discussions and activities. This will help you stay engaged with the material and learn more effectively.

  3. Build relationships: College is a great time to build meaningful relationships with classmates, professors, and other individuals. Take advantage of social events, clubs, and organizations to meet new people and make connections.

  4. Take advantage of academic resources: Utilize the academic resources available on campus, such as tutoring services, writing centers, and academic advisors. These resources can help you improve your academic performance and achieve your goals.

  5. Pursue your interests: Explore your interests and passions outside of the classroom by joining clubs, organizations, and extracurricular activities. This can help you develop new skills, meet like-minded people, and gain valuable experiences.

  6. Manage your time effectively: College can be a busy and overwhelming time, so it's important to manage your time effectively. Use a planner or calendar to keep track of your assignments, exams, and other commitments, and prioritize your tasks accordingly.

  7. Take care of yourself: Finally, it's important to take care of your physical and mental health during college. Get enough sleep, eat well, exercise regularly, and seek help if you're struggling with mental health issues or other challenges. Taking care of yourself will help you stay healthy and perform at your best.

Author’s Footnote

As a recent college graduate with a degree in Astrophysics, I know first hand how challenging and rewarding college can be. As a former Teach Forward Foundation and Vault Prep student myself, I am thankful for the support I received from both organizations in preparation for my time in college, and I can truly say that I was able to get the most out of my college experience thanks to their contributions.