Usually, the value of a college degree is measured in terms of lifetime earning power – by most calculations, college graduates will make more money throughout their careers than those who didn’t secure a degree. Even with the economy and job market slowing down, job hunters with degrees are going to find more opportunities available to them than those who made it through high school. Obviously, people who haven’t even completed high school or a GED equivalent are likely to have an extremely tough time finding any sort of work if college graduates are taking warehouse, service, and sales jobs.
But the value of higher education isn’t limited to money. Earning a degree is more than the major requirements you check off a program chart, its about expanding your perspective of the world by coming to understand more of the depth inherent to otherwise common concepts. Anyone can use computers to check email or research information, but with a little bit of extra education you can start learning how to program your own functions & routines. While it may sound like something you have no use for, it is practically impossible to imagine the possibilities before understanding how it works.
And learning about possibilities is a big part of the college education. Unless you’re absolutely certain you know what your passion in life is, intro-level college classes may introduce you to knew concepts and areas of study you’ve never really looked into before. I personally started off interested in History, and eventually I realized I wanted to study more modern events and ended up with a major in Political Science & Economics. Of course, at no point during that process did I even imagine I would end up working with financial aid and online publishing!
Even outside the classroom, college offers a lot of chances to build a social network and get involved with community organizations. Campus religious groups, political groups, and artistic groups can provide students with access to influential figures in their field, expensive equipment they might not otherwise get to use, or even just a chance to meet peers with similar interests.
While some of the community value of college can be diluted in online degree programs, the technology is actually coming a long way toward connecting people in distant locations. Bandwidth improvements and cheaper cameras are making streaming video conference easier than ever to achieve.
Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong reason to pursue higher education. You don’t even need to enroll in a degree to learn something new! Remember though, if you’re going to invest a significant amount of money into a college program, being able to pay that back with higher wages is an important factor to consider. You don’t have to borrow a hundred thousand dollars to study liberal arts if the local community college or state university offers almost identical classes and student groups.
So although there is no universal right or wrong reason to choose a school or commit to a degree, each student will have to consider all the potential costs and benefits associated. Take some time to think it over, and don’t rush into anything, but don’t use that as an excuse to procrastinate either!