The 4 Fundamental Reasons You Need a College Degree

Even as college becomes more expensive than ever, having your bachelor’s degree is becoming more of an expectation than ever.

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Even as college becomes more expensive than ever, having your bachelor’s degree is becoming more of an expectation than ever.

Image via Cosmopolitan

It might be easier said than done, but getting a college degree helps prospective employees in almost every field, from the pre-law and medical students to the visual artists and writers. The main impediment students face when debating whether college is right for them is that some high school graduates go to college without knowing what they want to get out of it.

Fortunately, as long you have an idea of what motivates you, including what kind of work makes you proud and what kind of environment allows you to thrive, then college can benefit you in a number of ways. Below are four reasons why, even if you’re skeptical of its value, that you should go to college anyway.

1. Credibility

When a company sees a potential employee has their bachelor’s degree, it increases their chances in getting hired, especially when compared to someone who lists high school as their highest form of education. Having a degree shows you’ve gone the extra mile to work in your special field of interest, and that you have the ability to handle the demands and pressures of a work environment. Someone who has their undergraduate degree is also expected to have acquired a certain degree of professionalism that they can bring with them to the workplace.

Most people are aware that having a bachelor’s helps you stand out from those who lack one, but too many underestimate the credibility that such a degree can really provide. No matter what field you choose to work in, you’ll have something to say. As a matter of fact, if you have enrolled in a college institution, you should feel that you have something important to contribute to society upon graduating, and you should want to make your voice heard in one way or another.

A bachelor’s degree provides you with the credibility to make a statement to the people you’re working with (or the general public, if that’s your audience), because it shows that you’ve studied your field to an impressive extent, unlike someone who may simply express interest in it.

2. Knowledge

A college degree also provides special knowledge and critical thinking skills that you will need in order to practice your craft competitively, as well as keep improving in your field long after you have graduated.

Dr. Joe Lau, from the University of Hong Kong, and Dr. Johnathan Chang, from the Baptist University of Hong Kong, define critical thinking as “the ability to think clearly and rationally about what to do or what to believe.” When given information, skillful critical thinkers analyze and apply that information to their own work. Their analytical abilities allow them to effectively decipher the true essence of a particular work, in order to challenge or further express it in a different way.

Opponents may suggest that critical thinking is only pertinent to certain types of work, but Lau and Chang disagree, saying that critical thinking is the “foundation of democracy,” as well as a powerful asset to have in such a quickly changing economy and workforce; in fact, more and more, critical thinking is becoming a must-have skill in a job environment in which entire industries are being reimagined with the help of new technologies. As a result, earning your bachelor’s is essential, regardless of what you want to do or how you’d like to make an impact.

3. Networking

When deciding whether or not to pursue a degree, you have to take into account the value of networking, an activity so embedded into college life that most students fail to even realize they’re doing it.

College is one of the best places to find a few members for your future professional, hard-working team, or a boss who may be willing to hire you after graduation. Therefore, it doesn’t hurt to be mindful of classmates you work well with, as well as anyone with whom you share a common interest; no matter your career path, the people you meet can have a profound impact on your success.

College career centers also provide networking tips and hold events where students can meet people already working in their field or who are pursuing a similar type of job. The more people you meet, the greater your chances of success. You may not vibe with the first person you speak to, but after talking to a few people, you may find someone with whom you have a strong connection; these are the people with whom you should keep in contact most of all, as, if nothing else, they may be able to refer you to another professional for a job down the line.

Because of the changing job market, one that often relies now more on personal connections than resumes and job fairs, colleges across the country have started to place an even bigger emphasis on networking. As a result, many universities now go out of their way to connect students, especially those with a business-oriented major, and taking advantage of those connections can be one of the most intangible benefits of going to college.

The same goes for employers, which, one day, you will likely be. The people you befriend and work with in college may one day be sitting across from you in a job interview, and since knowing the character of a potential employee is incredibly valuable but also nearly unascertainable from the job application process, having a first-hand relationship with your potential work collaborators is almost reason enough to go to college by itself.

4. Financial Security

Though all the aforementioned reasons are appealing in their own rights, by far the most popular reason students go to college is for the future financial security. Though freshmen go to college for a dozen other reasons, as the job market gets increasingly stringent, it stands to reason that the promise of a salary bump is one of the more alluring components of a college degree.

Years from now, according to business analysts, a bachelor’s degree won’t get you hired as easily as a master’s, and further in the future, you might even need a Ph.D. before you could hope to be hired. Therefore, as the competition for jobs increases, so does the importance of earning your degree. Even now, few companies are willing to hire someone who doesn’t at least have their bachelor’s degree.

Nonetheless, in order to avoid wasting both your time and money, I do suggest figuring out what it is that you want to study and perhaps even setting some career goals. Consider the clubs, organizations, classes and various extracurricular activities you were part of in high school, and follow your interests through internships or volunteer work.

It’s okay to take a few months (or years) after graduation to decide what you’d like to pursue, who you’d like to be and how you’d make an impact. The surer you are, the greater your focus and motivation will be throughout college, which will enable you to have a more fulfilling, engaging and meaningful experience.

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