How a College Degree Can Change Your Life

The value of your college diploma can resonate far into your future.
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When Tom Hanks said that college allowed him to be “exposed to this world that I didn’t know was possible,” he offered important insight into how college can change your life. A college degree is not merely a piece of paper at the end of an educational endeavor. It represents intellectual pursuit, hard work and experiences that can broaden your world view and change the way you look at yourself and the life you hope to lead.

1 World View

The experiences you have as you earn your college degree are those that will solidify who you are and how you think. In addition to teaching the critical thinking skills that are a vital ability in most fields, college offers the opportunity to meet and interact with people who don’t necessarily think just like you do. Additionally, colleges offer chances to get out into the world through internships, community involvement and study abroad programs that can expand your world. Boise State University study abroad coordinator Corrine Henke notes that the programs change student perspectives and give them the opportunity to make connections that can last a lifetime.

2 Self-Esteem

Graduating from college is a huge accomplishment and can do a world of good for your self-esteem. In fact, some college courses are specifically designed to help graduates face challenges with confidence and tools that will serve them in the long-term. At the University of Minnesota, students can minor in leadership and learn such valuable skills as goal-setting, team development and conflict management. The value of positive self-esteem cannot be overstated. It helps foster successful relationships and careers. In an Ohio State University study conducted in 2011, researchers found that college students placed a higher value on self-esteem than eating, drinking, receiving a paycheck and even having sex.

3 Connections

The people you meet in college can have a profound influence on the rest of your life. Not only are you likely to meet future colleagues, but professors and teaching assistants may be able to help you with your career and even offer recommendations or outright employment. You may even meet your future spouse during your college years. The median age for a first marriage was 28.9 years old for men and 26.9 years old for women in 2010, according to the U.S. census.

4 Job Prospects

College graduates have consistently better job prospects than their lesser-educated peers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Between 2004 and 2014, almost 14 million job openings are projected to be filled by workers who have a bachelor’s or higher degree.” Additionally, college grads make more money than those with only high school diplomas. According to the College Aid Bulletin put out by FinAid, your bachelor’s degree will be worth more than a million dollars more than a high school diploma over the course of your working career. And that employment potential and financial well-being can resonate far into your future.

Linda Emma is a long-standing writer and editor. She is also a digital marketing professional and published author with more than 20 years experience in media and business. She works as a content manager and professional writing tutor at a private New England college. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Northeastern University.