A university education can help to prepare you for life and increase your career prospects, while giving you a few years inside the social, engaging environment of a higher education institution. A university education is also time-consuming and expensive, so before you apply for scholarships and dedicate your life to pursuing a degree, it’s best to weigh the pros and cons and decide if a university is for you.
Increased Earnings and Opportunities
A major advantage in receiving a university education is that you may earn a higher salary than an individual with a high school diploma. According to a 2007 survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, on average, people with a bachelor’s degree earn around $20,000 per year more than those without. Your career choice may require advanced training. For example, the fields of medicine and law entail postgraduate study. Such fields tend to pay very well.
Specialization and Diversity
Students entering higher education have access to an unprecedented selection of classes ranging from general education requirements to highly specialized courses in challenging subjects such as aerospace engineering. Universities are continually developing new programs to attract prospective students and meet workforce needs, as noted by Stephen C. Dunnett, vice provost for international education at State University of New York at Buffalo, on the U.S. Campus website. Many non-traditional aged students also find it beneficial to take classes to sharpen their skills in a competitive job market.
Universities promote a social lifestyle that offers a chance to meet people from many different backgrounds. A healthy social life is all part of the experience of a university, and you’ll have an opportunity to develop new interests and explore a range of hobbies and sports, should you desire.
A chief worry for those leaving university with a bachelor’s degree is that their achievements actually make them a less attractive prospect for some employers. While many graduates will enter careers of their choice, others will find that an overcrowded job market or tough competition results in the need to look at other fields of employment. In some cases, employers will reject individuals with degrees because of they believe college graduates are likely to leave the job quickly or will fail to fit into the business.
At a university, you’ll be surrounded by others with a similar outlook in terms of education. In the wider world, however, people differ, and you may find that your elite education sets you at odds with individuals who didn’t go to college. As William Deresiewicz points out in an article called “The Disadvantages of an Elite Education,” a university education can even, at an extreme level, make it difficult to hold a conversation with those who do not have one.
- U.S. Census Bureau: Educational Attainment in the United States: 2007; Sarah R. Crissey; January 2009
- Essex University: Parents and families: Benefits of Higher Education
- College Board: Education Pays 2013: The Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society
- U.S. Campus: The advantages of American Higher Education; Stephen C. Dunnett
- The American Scholar: The Disadvantages of an Elite Education; William Deresiewicz; 2011
- michaeljung/iStock/Getty Images