The cost of a college education is enough to make anyone pause before committing to this next step in life. While some careers don’t require a college degree, many others do. If you’re considering whether or not to pursue a college degree, it’s good to know why higher education is important. 

Exposure to possibilities

Most high school graduates haven’t had enough exposure to the possibilities available to them after graduation to make a long-term career choice. A college education introduces students to a variety of courses and career options that may not have been previously considered. It makes them more well-rounded coming out of their college years. A variety of future pathways is open to them as a result of a college degree and is a top reason why higher education is important. 

Ability to pivot

A college education teaches students a wide range of topics and applicable skills. With the advance of technology and AI today, some jobs that exist now may not in the future. The skills that are learned with a college education are more broadly applicable than a specific trade, so if a layoff should come or a job is no longer relevant, college grads are able to apply their knowledge to a new field if necessary. 

Higher pay

A wage gap still exists between those who have a college degree and those who don’t. A study by Georgetown University and The Center on Education found that those who earn a college degree and work full-time earn, on average, 84% more over their lifetime than those who don’t have a college degree. Health and life insurance are also more accessible to those who are employed post-graduation, which is another reason why higher education is important. 

Personal development 

The post-high school years are an important time of personal growth. The independence that’s a part of the college experience is critical for learning how to navigate life going forward, apart from familiar family and friends. Building new friendships, learning study skills, navigating personal choices, exposure to diversity, and becoming a responsible adult are part of why higher education is important aside from professional preparation. 

Experiential learning

Whether a student chooses to study abroad or volunteer in their community, college students have the opportunity for hands-on learning. Students can travel and learn in a different country for a semester or immerse themselves in their chosen industry with a practicum. These opportunities can lead to job offers after college and even prevent misemployment in the future as students experience their chosen profession first-hand with time to change direction if needed. 

Problem solving

College students learn how to think differently than at any other point in their lives. Critical thinking and problem-solving skills are important life and work skills. Through experiences both inside and outside the classroom, students navigate challenges and work through problems independently and collaboratively, making them more employable after graduation.  

When considering why higher education is important, these are just a few highlights to consider. The long-term ROI Is often worth the upfront costs of the college experience.