The advantages of going to college include a stronger financial future. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the average high school graduate earns around $30,000 a year, while college graduates with an associate's degree earn around $40,000 and students who earn a Bachelor's degree enter the workforce with starting salaries closer to $60,000. Other advantages of a four-year degree include increased independence, self-reliance, community building skills, self-starting and social networking.

History

Historically, the advantages of going to college and university were reserved for the children of wealthy or noble families. Scholarly learning developed leadership and management abilities, making the wealthy wealthier and the advantaged more so. After World War II, a perceptible shift in college enrollment took place in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the percentage of students who received degrees at four-year institutions steadily increased between 1950 and 2000.

Significance

While the long-term advantages of going to college include improved financial security, articles published in Business Net (see Resources below) cite that individuals who attend two- and four-year colleges show greater interest in intellectual pursuits, are more politically savvy, experience greater self-esteem and devote more time to community and civic-minded projects.

Function

Students attend college to acquire knowledge and because it gives them an advantage in the ever-shifting employment and technological landscape of the United States. About 35 percent of students maintain the same major throughout all four years of their enrollment in college. Sixty percent of students who will change their major do so by their second year in attendance. Attending college helps young people develop the critical reasoning, logic and application skills they will need as independent adults. According to the U.S. Department of Education, children of college graduates are 50 percent more likely to attend college themselves, providing advantages to future generations.

Benefits

The benefits of attending college can be found in the contemporary success stories of students who used their college education to springboard to success. They benefited from an understanding of time management, money management, expanded cultural and intellectual interests and social networking. Social networking is a benefit that continues to pay forward for college students and graduates. Relationships developed in sororities, fraternities and other college alumnus can help graduates find jobs, investments and homes. According to Love To Know's College channel (see Resources below), Greek houses are a great benefit of going to college, and despite their partying reputations, provide immense social support both during and long after college years.

Theories/Speculation

Children of college graduates are far more likely to seek college admission and take advantage of the higher education options available to them. Most admissions programs aimed at students to support them through the process are aimed at children of high school graduates or dropouts.