Why College?

You’ve read the news the last couple of years and frankly you may be pretty confused and freaked out. Everywhere you read the word “college” you also read about the rising numbers of unemployed recent graduates, the rising costs of college, and the unaffordability of student loans. So why go to college? Who can afford giant piles of student loan debt to work at a retail store? What would be the point of this?

The good news is that recent data indicates that college graduates still make more money than those with just a high school diploma. And with scholarships and a variety of different financial aid programs, college is still affordable for most everyone.

Reasons to go to college

Making more money. According to the latest statistics from the College Board (a not-for-profit membership association whose mission is to connect students to college success and opportunity), the typical full-time, year-round worker with a four-year college degree earns 60 percent more over their working lifetime than a worker with only a high school diploma. And even some college is better than none. The College Board also reports that median lifetime earnings for the typical individual with some college but no degree are 13 percent higher than median lifetime earnings for high school graduates with no college experience.

According to US News and World Report, college graduates earn an average of almost $1 million more over their lifetimes than those with only a high school diploma.


Source: National Association of College and University Business Officers

"College is a long-term investment and having a degree significantly increases your earning potential," Keith Brannan, vice president of financial security planning, Country Financial

Acquiring valuable skills. With the increasing uncertainty in today’s job market, the demand for portable skills (skills that can be transferred from one job to another) is higher than ever. This would include learning a trade at a vocational school, taking the appropriate graduate school prerequisite courses for professional careers (medical, legal, engineering), and general skills necessary for success in the working world at large. Would you like to work in sales? Take an acting class. Interested in marketing? Build a strong network of friends and colleagues. Many employers prefer hiring college graduates due to their increased communication skills, stronger work ethic, and good interpersonal skills.

More opportunities. Between widening your social/professional network, deepening your knowledge in many different subject areas, and learning the life skills necessary to bounce back from failure and handle success, college opens the doors to many opportunities in both employment and life experiences. Simply put - for most people, if you don’t go to college, you don’t have the same kinds of opportunities.

Figure out what’s right for you

You might want to go to college to have a better leg up in the job market when you graduate. You might want to learn a specific skill or trade. You might want to go to college to start building a network of like-minded people to help accomplish your entrepreneurial objectives (i.e. starting the next Facebook). You may just love dining-hall food! Whatever your reasons, it is important to have them. College is not just an extension of high school; it’s a launching pad into a greater world of opportunity. And there are a myriad of decisions to be made when beginning the process. Take a deep breath. Ready?

Top Growing Industries/In-demand Careers


Source: January 2013 Salary Survey, National Association of Colleges and Employers

If your goal in going to college is to make a lot of money without going to graduate school, then there is one word for you: engineering! Be it aerospace, nuclear, electrical, civil, chemical, petroleum, or mechanical, engineers are in demand and many engineering jobs don’t require advanced degrees. But if you are looking to enter one of the careers with the highest lifetime earning potential, then you will need to consider graduate school in medicine, law, or business.

Occupations with the most job openings by bachelor's degree

Occupation Total Job Openings 2008-2018
Elementary school teachers, except special education 597,000
Accountants and auditors 498,000
Secondary school teachers, except special and vocational education 412,000
Middle school teachers, except special and vocational education 251,000
Computer systems analysts 223,000
Computer software engineers, applications 218,000
Network systems and data communications analysts 208,000
Computer software engineers, systems software 153,000
Construction managers 138,000
Market research analysts 137,000

Source: The College Board