Is college truly all about ROI (return on investment)? Do we encourage kids to apply to college solely based on the fact that they will give us a good return on our investment – a job that pays well after college?
Should you go into massive debt for a liberal arts degree that leaves you unemployable? Absolutely not. But can you get a liberal arts degree and in the process discover your passion? Absolutely.
If you ask both of my children if they considered college ROI, they would have different answers.
My daughter would say that college was so much more than getting her degree and finding a job. It gave her life experiences, lifelong friends, business experience through internships, and a study-abroad experience that was invaluable. At college that she gained independence, learned about budgeting, developed a strong work ethic, got an education and, basically, grew up. She would say that you can’t put a dollar amount on those four years.
My son, on the other hand, had a very different experience. After four years of service in the Marines, he decided to go to college. For him, it was more about pushing himself to attain the degree and proving to himself that he was capable of that level of education since he was just an average student in high school. He did incur some debt but he would never say it was a waste of time and money or a poor return on investment – even though he’s not working in a career related to his liberal arts major.
The No. 1 answer most people give for going to college is related to income: College will help them secure a well-paying job after graduation. But is that the only reason (or even the best reason) to go to college? There should be other factors involved in deciding to spend that huge chunk of change for a college education.
Following are five good reasons to go to college and most have nothing to do with securing a job after college, even though the end result will be finding a career.
1. To get an education.
This might seem obvious, but you would be amazed how low this ranks on the list of criteria involved in making the decision to attend college. If you aren’t interested in learning, college is a waste of your time and money. If you make education your top priority and take advantage of the college resources, you will be assured to get your money’s worth.
2. To expand your circle of awareness.
Surrounding yourself with educated people and participating in debate expands your mind and makes you more aware of the world around you. Once you become aware of others and their various paths in life, you will be more able to serve your community and create change in whatever field you choose to follow.
3. To discover your passion.
Life is so much more than a job. The goal of most college students is to find their passion. Take courses that interest you and explore all the options available within the college environment. Once you find your passion, it’s so much easier to find the right career path and find fulfillment.
4. To network.
To get the most out of your college experience, you should invest some of your time in networking. Make contacts with people who are like-minded and pursue the same goals as you. These college connections can not only improve your quality of life, but can also contribute to forging a career path after graduation.
5. To challenge yourself.
You get out of college what you put into it. If you stretch beyond what is easy and comfortable, you can ultimately realize your full potential. College allows you the opportunity to get off the beaten path and head out on the road less traveled. As you challenge those boundaries, you learn more about yourself and grow as a person.
College is so much more than getting that degree and finding a job. If you approach it as a place of higher learning (with emphasis on learning) you won’t be disappointed with the outcome. College can be more than a means to an end (i.e. a career); it can be life-changing.