Beyond the Classroom: Benefits of a Degree

By Joanna Nesbit

Your friends and family may be telling you that going to college is the only way to get a good job. While it’s true that many professions do require a four-year degree, future employment isn’t the only benefit to attending college. In fact, some of the most important benefits are personal ones: the friends you make, the club you steer, or the mentors you meet. These kinds of connections and opportunities can have a major impact on the rest of your life. Besides academics, here are other benefits of a degree: 

You’ll Meet New People

Going to college means meeting new people and, for most students, developing lifelong friendships. It may take time to make new friends in college, but you’ll probably find a group of people who share your values and interests, maybe even more strongly than your friends from high school. 

You might also develop new interests and hobbies, and along the way connect with people who have different backgrounds and life experiences from yours. Meeting people from different backgrounds gives you new understanding you may not have had before. Saying good-bye to high school friends doesn’t mean some of them won’t stay lifelong friends as well, but college provides another community for making more (and more varied) lasting bonds and connections. 

You’ll Become More Independent

If you’re a traditionally aged student (age 18 or 19), college is also an opportunity to take charge of your life and make your own decisions, maybe for the first time. You’ll choose what courses to take, which extracurricular activities to participate in, and how to spend your free time. No one’s watching. That might feel a little strange at first and maybe liberating, but it doesn’t mean you’re completely alone if you need assistance. 

Colleges offer many types of support, such as academic advising when it comes time for class registration, tutoring, and, if you live on campus, your resident advisor (RA) for social help in your dorm. Plus your friends and family are still there for you! 

Learn more about asking for help in college

You’ll Discover and Fine-Tune Your Values, Beliefs, and Goals

College also helps you discover or fine-tune your values, beliefs, and goals. As you meet people, learn new course material in your classes, and have new experiences, you learn more about yourself and what you stand for and discover new interests. Sometimes you learn a lot about yourself when your ideas and values are challenged by alternative viewpoints. 

Sometimes change comes about when you try things you’ve never tried before. It could be finding a passion for film and screenwriting, learning that you’re a really good chess player, or realizing you love mountain bike riding. College provides opportunities that might not be available to you otherwise, which is why it can be a huge time of personal growth.


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