“Why Go to College, Anyway?”

Well, for starters, you’ll never have another chance like this one. College doesn’t just prepare you for your future career. It allows you the opportunity to practice independent living, see the world, explore your interests, and grow—all while surrounded by friends and mentors who will challenge and encourage you as you grow into the person you were meant to be.

Still not convinced? Well, we’re happy to tell you more. Here are 12 of our top reasons to go to college:

1. It’s an opportunity to try something new.

Whether that’s through student clubs and organizations or taking a fun class, college is quite possibly the best springboard into new hobbies and interests. Want to learn how to swing dance? Perhaps you’ve always wanted to try pottery. Maybe piano? Ultimate frisbee? Calligraphy? Your options are endless.

2. It’s also a place to find your passion.

College is full of people who care deeply about this world and the people in it. If you’re not sure what you’re called to do, college provides a time and space for exploration and discovery, through courses, clubs and extracurriculars, and conversations with your professors and classmates.

3. You can practice “adulting.”

Laundry, grocery shopping, scheduling your own doctor’s appointments—if you’re already on top of all of this, more power to you! But if you’re still figuring it out, the best part is you’re not alone. There will definitely be others around you figuring it out, too.

4. You can see (and learn from) the world.

Studying abroad provides you with the opportunity to learn while living somewhere new.  You can have Instagrammable experiences like feeding giraffes in Kenya or swimming in Israel’s Dead Sea. But studying abroad also lets you dig deeper. You can learn about cultural norms while staying in a Polish family’s home, or study Gothic and Baroque architecture beneath the ceilings of European cathedrals, or understand the context for historic conflict in Northern Ireland (not just from classroom discussion, but from talking to the people who actually lived it).

5. You’re more likely to get a job.

As kids, many of us were told to go to college so we could get a good job. And while there are always exceptions, research says this encouragement isn’t misguided. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows consistently lower unemployment rates for those who have a bachelor’s degree.  (P.S. The BLS also has a great resource for looking up info about various careers such as average salaries, projected career growth, and necessary education.)

6. Odds are, you’ll also make more money.

Another piece pulled from BLS: As of April of this year, $578 was the median weekly income for full-time workers age 25+ without a high school diploma, compared with $739 for high school graduates with no college and $1,350 for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

7. You can study what you love.

Sure, every college has a set of general education requirements—but you also get to spend a significant time studying what fascinates you. Is it biology? Entrepreneurship? Maybe political science? You get to choose!

8. You’ll learn in a hands-on environment.

College is all about taking what you’re learning in the classroom and applying it to the real world, so you’re prepared to dive into your new career. You’ll still have lectures and textbooks—but you’ll also have internships, labs, and projects that help you put what you’re learning into action.

9. You’ll make connections that could help in your future career.

Through your professors, through internships, job fairs, and perhaps even through your classmates, you’ll have the opportunity to do some valuable networking. While it seems intimidating, the longer you work at it, the easier it gets. And getting to know people pays off, big time.

10. Your network of friends will expand, too.

College is the best time to meet new people, especially if you live on campus. Get to know the people you’re going to school with. It’s quite possible they could end up being lifelong friends.

11. There’s always stuff to do.

Support your college’s athletic teams, show up for the spring musical, attend programs hosted by cultural groups, and keep an eye out for any fun events (on campus or off) facilitated by your student activities association (often these are free or greatly discounted!).

12. You’ll grow.

The preconceptions you come into college with will be challenged, but in the best way. College is a time for you to ask the hard questions, seek out answers, and develop an understanding of why you believe what you believe—all in a supportive environment. And when you graduate, you’ll be equipped to continue learning outside of the classroom. College is just the beginning.

This blog post is an extension of a piece that originally appeared in the Summer 2019 edition of Bethel Magazine.