“If you want to get laid, go to college. If you want an education, go to the library.”
Frank Zappa, Musician
Should You Go To College? All Pros & Cons Of College Education You Need To Know
Many young people in the US and all over the world plan to go to college. However, many of them also have concerns that college might not be the right way to go for them. Note that I was in a similar situation. I got a Master’s degree in Economics from university myself and therefore know what I’m talking about.
In the following, I give you all the pros and cons of college education so that you get a better impression of whether going to college is worth it for you or not.
Advantages of College Education
- College education may lead to better job opportunities
- Lower unemployment rates
- Higher average salaries
- Prerequisite for most management jobs
- You may be able to avoid physically demanding work afterward
- You will be more flexible regarding where and how to work
- You may be able to afford better health insurance
- Lower risk to slide into poverty
- Risk for old-age poverty may be lower
- You can learn how to deal with pressure
- Many people think back to their college years as best time of their lives
- You can meet many new people
- College gives you the opportunity to build a strong network
- You can learn persistence
- You may get to know foreign exchange students
- College education gives you the opportunity to expand your horizon
- You can choose from a variety of different courses
- College education is still considered to be the standard of good education
- You may want to stay on the research track
- You can spend a semester abroad
- You will have plenty of leisure
- Higher average life expectancy for people with college education
- High level of education is crucial for a working society
- Companies have it easier to find qualified employees
College education may lead to better job opportunities
One important advantage of college education is that you will get better job opportunities on average. In our nowadays state of the world, employers often require college degrees, even for many entry positions in companies.
Hence, you can consider a college degree as a sort of entry ticket for many jobs and if you don’t have this ticket, it will be hard to get into many highly reputable companies.
However, also note that a college degree is only an entry ticket, no guarantee that you will get a good job afterward.
Lower unemployment rates
College graduates also have much lower unemployment rates compared to the average person in many countries all over the world. In fact, the higher the qualification level, the lower the chances for unemployment since people will have the opportunity to choose from a variety of different jobs and don’t have to rely on a rather small niche.
Thus, if you want to maximize your chances to get a job and minimize the risk of unemployment in our nowadays age, college education may be the right way to go for you.
Higher average salaries
Another benefit of college education is that college graduates also earn significantly more money on average. In fact, if you want to make a six-figure income or even more, chances are that you should go to college and get a degree since it will be quite hard to reach this goal without having graduated from college.
Consequently, if you aspire to a fancy lifestyle and want to make really good money, college will maximize your chances of reaching these goals.
Prerequisite for most management jobs
Especially if you aspire after a demanding management career in a renowned company, college degrees are almost a must-have and you may even want to get a doctor’s degree for this goal.
In fact, many members of the board of directors of big companies have college education or even a doctor’s degree and it will be almost impossible to get into these positions without graduating from college.
Therefore, if you have these big goals, college education is definitely the way to go for you.
You may be able to avoid physically demanding work afterward
College education can also help you to avoid having to work in a physically demanding job. In fact, college prepares you for office jobs instead of blue-collar work. Those office jobs can be quite demanding on a mental level, yet they do not require you to work in a physical manner.
You can also conveniently work inside instead of having to work outside when it rains or snows. Hence, getting a college degree may also help you to avoid poor working conditions.
You will be more flexible regarding where and how to work
Another upside of going to college is that you can work in a more flexible manner. In fact, for most office jobs that college graduates carry out, employees do not even have to be in the company in person. Instead, people can often work from home since most of the work is carried out via computer. Even video calls are possible in our current age.
Therefore, if you want to maximize your level of flexibility, going for college education and getting an office job where you can work from remote could be the best way to go for you.
You may be able to afford better health insurance
Since your salary will likely be significantly higher with proper college education, you will also be able to afford much better health insurance compared to the average person in our society.
In fact, lack of health insurance is still a pretty big problem in our society and in case of emergency, many people will not be able to afford complex surgeries.
In turn, those people may suffer from serious long-term health issues or may even die from their health conditions since they will not be able to afford proper treatment.
Lower risk to slide into poverty
College graduates also have a significantly lower risk to get into poverty. This is due to the fact that the salaries of people with college degrees are much higher and also due to lower unemployment rates. Both factors are closely connected to poverty and therefore, getting a college degree may also minimize your risk to slide into poverty.
Risk for old-age poverty may be lower
Especially old-age poverty has become a big problem in our nowadays society. Many people greatly underestimate this problem. Especially if people don’t earn too much money from their jobs, they will often not be able to save enough money for their retirement since they simply have to spend most of their money on basic things like rent and food.
College education can also help you out in this regard since due to higher average salaries, you can save more money and make proper retirement plans, which in turn implies a much lower risk to get trapped in old-age poverty.
You can learn how to deal with pressure
Another advantage of going to college is that you can learn to deal with pressure. Especially in periods where many exams take place in a rather short timeframe, you will have to manage your time in a quite efficient manner. Those periods can be quite stressful and you may feel overwhelmed from time to time.
However, it is quite important that you learn to deal with this kind of pressure since you will face many challenges later on in your life and if you are not able to deal with pressure, you will likely not be able to succeed.
Many people think back to their college years as best time of their lives
In general, many people also describe their college years as one of the best times of their lives. In fact, college is a unique experience that will not be comparable to anything that comes along in the future. I personally really enjoyed college life and it also gave me the opportunity to really grow in character.
I love to remember back to all those experiences I made during my college years and I definitely don’t want to miss this period in my life.
You can meet many new people
Since you will have many different courses in college, you can also meet many new people over time. In the long run, you can also make really good friends and you will stay connected with many of them over the course of many years or even for a lifetime.
Hence, if you are a person who loves to connect and to talk to other people, college can also give you a great opportunity to do so.
College gives you the opportunity to build a strong network
Another benefit of college is that it gives you the opportunity to build a strong network. Especially if you attend a pretty renowned university, you can get in touch with many students who have influential parents and who will also work in demanding management jobs sooner or later.
If you connect with those people and spend plenty of time together, chances are that you will also stay connected after you graduated and you will also have many different contacts to companies those people will work in afterward.
Therefore, through this strong network, you will also have much better chances to get a demanding job in one of those companies.
You can learn persistence
In order to succeed in various parts of life, it is also crucial that you stay persistent and be the best version of yourself. College education can also help you in this regard since you will have to stay focused over a couple of years in order to reach your goal. In fact, you may have to push through difficult periods where you may be quite unmotivated.
However, once you finally graduate, you will get the feeling that you really achieved something and this will also give you strengths for potential challenges later on in your future.
You may get to know foreign exchange students
During your college time, you will often also be able to connect to students from foreign countries who spend a semester abroad at your university. This can be quite interesting since you will soon realize that the customs and cultural values of foreign people can be rather different compared to what you are used to.
If you want to learn a foreign language, practicing with exchange students can also be a great way to do so. Moreover, you can stay in contact with these foreign students through social media and you may visit them in their home country at one point in your life.
College education gives you the opportunity to expand your horizon
In general, since you will experience so many different things in college, you can also expand your horizon in various different directions. You can take many different courses, figure out what you really like and go with it.
Moreover, college will also give you the opportunity to talk to many people from different cultural backgrounds with different social norms. All this can give you a much better impression regarding how the world really looks like.
You can choose from a variety of different courses
College education also offers you the opportunity to try yourself out in various different fields. For instance, when you start college as a freshman, you may not exactly know what you want to study and what you want to do with your life.
However, by taking many different courses, you may soon be able to realize what is really interesting to you. In turn, you may also be better able to decide what major you want to take.
College education is still considered to be the standard of good education
In many countries all over the world, college education is still considered to be the gold standard when it comes to proper education. In fact, many parents consider college education as a must-have for their kids.
Therefore, if you want to fit in the social narrative and want to be regarded as a valued member of our society, chances are that college education also provides you with the best opportunities in this regard.
You may want to stay on the research track
Some people also really like college and decide to stay on the research track instead of working for a private corporation. In fact, some people get their doctor’s degree and will work as university lecturer later on. Hence, if you love teaching and educating other people, this sort of career may also be suitable for you.
You can spend a semester abroad
Another key advantage of going to college is that you can also spend a semester abroad. In fact, I spent two semesters abroad and really learned quite a lot about myself. Since you will have to organize everything on your own, you will really learn how to become independent and how to manage your life.
Moreover, you will experience a different culture and in case you stay at a guest family, you will also get to know many local traditions. In fact, staying at my guest family was great and we are still in contact via social media.
Hence, if you go for college education and can afford to spend a semester abroad, I would definitely recommend you take this opportunity since it can really benefit you in various different ways.
You will have plenty of leisure
College can also be the period of your life in which you will have the most leisure. Sure, many people have to work in a student job and also have to prepare for exams.
However, you will still be much more flexible in college compared to the time after you graduated and work in an office job for long hours every day.
Therefore, if you want to have a period in your life where you can really enjoy plenty of leisure, college can also help you in this regard.
Higher average life expectancy for people with college education
Studies have shown that college graduates will also have a significantly higher average life expectancy. This can be attributed to the fact that they will earn more money and will be able to afford better health insurance on average. Hence, college graduates will get better medical treatment in case of emergency and will therefore also live longer on average.
High level of education is crucial for a working society
Apart from the individual opportunities of college education, it can also have strong positive effects on our society as a whole. In fact, education is crucial for a peaceful society and also that people know what’s going on in the world.
It is also important to prevent the rise of radical political movements. Therefore, high levels of education are crucial for a working society in various different ways and college education can also help in this regard.
Companies have it easier to find qualified employees
Many companies also struggle to find highly-qualified employees in many parts of our planet. Hence, if more people get a college degree, those companies may have an easier time finding qualified employees and may therefore also be able to increase their profits and to strengthen their overall market position in the long run.
Disadvantages of College Education
- College can be pretty expensive
- Many students have to get student loans for college
- Children from poor families often can’t afford college education
- College education has lost its reputation
- Quality of education greatly varies across colleges
- Not everyone gets a good job afterward
- College education may no longer provide better job opportunities in the future
- You will lose many years that you could have spent in the workforce
- Many people are just not made for college
- Some people don’t want to work in an office job
- College doesn’t prepare you sufficiently for real life
- Digital skills are often missing in college education
- Teachers may be quite unmotivated
- College can lead to mental issues
- Many college students feel lost in life
- College students may be financially dependent on their parents
- You may quit college after a while
- Many people overestimate the positive effects of college education
- Student debt may have the potential to cause a serious financial crisis
College can be pretty expensive
Apart from the many important advantages of college education, there are also many issues related to this concept. For instance, one major problem of college education is that it can be pretty expensive. In fact, tuition fees, housing and additional costs can add up to several hundreds of thousands of dollars until you finally get your college degree.
Therefore, college is quite costly and you should evaluate for yourself whether you are willing to spend those enormous amounts of money for your college degree or not.
Many students have to get student loans for college
In case your parents cannot help you with financing your college degree, you will often also have to get a student loan. However, these loans can be considered to be the worst form of debt since you cannot declare bankruptcy on them in many countries all over the world.
Hence, if you have to get a significant student loan, chances are that you will have to pay back this money for many years to come and this financial burden may hold you back in several different ways in your future life.
Children from poor families often can’t afford college education
Another downside of college is that children from poor families will often not be able to afford college education at all. Most of the time, parents of those children will not be able to financially support them and a student loan will also not be enough to cover all the expenses related to college.
Thus, most kids from poor families will not get the opportunity for proper college education and may therefore get stuck in poverty.
College education has lost its reputation
Opponents of college education also often claim that college has lost its reputation. Just a few decades ago, only a small fraction of the overall population got a degree from university and this degree therefore had a high worth. However, in our current state of the world, so many people attend college that such a degree is nothing special anymore.
Quality of education greatly varies across colleges
Another disadvantage of college education is that the quality of education greatly varies across colleges. In fact, while some institutions like Harvard or Princeton offer world-class education, many community colleges only offer rather limited educational quality and degrees from those colleges may therefore not have too much value.
Hence, if you really want to go to college, make sure that you choose a good university that really is worth the large amounts of money you have to spend on it.
Not everyone gets a good job afterward
Many kids also live in the illusion that everyone who gets a college degree also gets a good job afterward. However, this is not the case at all. In fact, there are many college graduates out there who work in jobs for which they would not even have needed a college degree.
Therefore, make sure that you get your degree in a major that is urgently needed on the local job market in order to avoid any unpleasant surprises regarding your job options later on in your life.
College education may no longer provide better job opportunities in the future
In general, it is rather questionable whether college education really provides you with better job opportunities in the long run. College education has become a mass product and it is nothing special to get a degree anymore. Also employers notice this and are often not satisfied with the skills college graduates bring to the table.
Consequently, college degrees may be rather worthless in the near future and you may want to use the money you would have spent on college education for starting your own business instead since it might have a much better return on investment in the long run.
You will lose many years that you could have spent in the workforce
Another downside of college is that you will lose many years that you could have worked in a job and could have earned significant amounts of money. In fact, if you aspire after a Master’s degree or even a Ph.D., chances are that you will have to spend many years in college and when you finally graduate and are ready to enter the job market, you will be much older than your competitors.
Hence, apart from the high costs of college, the fact that you will lose many years in the workforce makes it even more questionable whether the ROI on college education is really positive.
Many people are just not made for college
There are also many people out there who would be far better off working as a craftsman instead of getting a college degree. In fact, in my opinion, far too few people follow their passion and buy into the social narrative that college education is the best way to go for everyone.
Hence, if you really don’t want to go to college for various reasons, there are plenty of other ways how you can live a happy life.
Some people don’t want to work in an office job
Many people also don’t want to work in office jobs for their whole lives. However, college prepares you for exactly those kinds of jobs. Thus, if you already know that you don’t want to work in an office job for long hours on a regular basis, chances are that most college degrees will not be suitable for you and you should look out for other alternatives instead.
College doesn’t prepare you sufficiently for real life
In my opinion, another major issue with college education is that college doesn’t really prepare you for real life. College is often quite structured and students don’t have to organize too much on their own.
However, real life doesn’t work like that and many college degrees experience some sort of shock when they finally graduate and realize that the skills you learn in college are often not suitable to succeed in real life.
Digital skills are often missing in college education
In our nowadays state of the world, it is also crucial that students learn digital skills since those skills will be required on the job market in the near future. In fact, many jobs that require manual work right now will be automized in the future and therefore, many workers may end up in unemployment. Hence, you have to learn those digital skills in order to stay competitive and to avoid unemployment.
However, many colleges have still not adapted to those new requirements and don’t teach their students those important digital skills. Thus, if you want to attend college, make sure that you take enough computer science classes in order to get the skill set that will be required from you in the future.
Teachers may be quite unmotivated
Many college instructors are often also quite unmotivated and do not care about the learning experience of students too much. Hence, if this is the case in your college classes, make sure that you study hard on your own in order to acquire the knowledge that will be necessary to compete in the fierce global job market.
College can lead to mental issues
The pressure in college can be enormous. Especially during exam periods, college students often suffer from extremely high stress levels. In turn, some of them also develop serious mental issues since they simply feel overwhelmed and are not able to figure out how to manage this workload.
Hence, if you are a person who can’t deal with a high workload and stress in a healthy manner, college may also not be the way to go for you.
Many college students feel lost in life
Many college graduates also feel rather lost in life once they completed their degree. This is due to the fact that many college graduates simply don’t know what they want to do with their lives. Therefore, if you want to go to college, make sure that you have plans for your future so that you really have a goal to work for.
College students may be financially dependent on their parents
Due to the enormous financial burden related to college education, many students also have to get financial support from their parents. However, this also leads to serious financial dependence on their parents and dependence is never a good thing.
In fact, as long as you are dependent on a person, you will never be free to do whatever you want to do. Consequently, college education may also take away significant levels of freedom from you.
You may quit college after a while
Some people also drop out of college after a while. Those people often realize that college is not for them at all and they do not want to waste additional time and money on it.
However, dropping out of college also implies significant sunk costs which you will never get back. Hence, make sure that you really want to go to college in order to avoid those unnecessary dropout costs.
Many people overestimate the positive effects of college education
College is an established institution in many countries all over the world. Hence, people also often greatly overestimate the positive effects of college education. Although college degrees can be the entry ticket for the corporate world, your success in business rather depends on your performance in your job and after a few years in the corporate world, employers will often no longer care about your degree too much.
Student debt may have the potential to cause a serious financial crisis
Apart from the downsides of college education for students, college education and the related student debt can also have detrimental effects on our financial system. In fact, total student debt in the United States had exceeded the trillion-dollar mark and in case many students may no longer be able to pay back these enormous amounts of debt, this could be the start of the next serious financial crisis.
Top 10 College Education Pros & Cons – Summary List
|College Education Pros||College Education Cons|
|College education can lead to higher salaries||College education is expensive|
|May lower your risk for unemployment||Many students need student loans|
|You can work in more interesting jobs||May no longer be necessary in the future|
|College education can open doors for you||College education is no magic pill|
|Prerequisite for management jobs||Kids from poor families can’t afford college|
|You can meet many new people||College is not necessary for many jobs|
|You can develop your character||Quality of college education greatly varies|
|You can make a semester abroad||Not everyone gets a good job after graduating|
|College may provide you with plenty of leisure||College may lead to mental problems|
|You can learn persistence in college||Some people just drop out of college|
Should You Go To College?
We can conclude from the previous discussion that there are many advantages and disadvantages of college education. In my opinion, you should ask yourself whether college education brings you closer to your goals in life or not.
If it can help you to achieve these goals, go for it. Otherwise, you may want to go in a different direction instead since you can save plenty of time, money and effort if you don’t go to college.
About the author
My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people of all ages about our environmental problems and how everyone can make a contribution to mitigate these issues.
As I went to university and got my Master’s degree in Economics, I did plenty of research in the field of Development Economics.
After finishing university, I traveled around the world. From this time on, I wanted to make a contribution to ensure a livable future for the next generations in every part of our beautiful planet.
Wanna make a contribution to save our environment? Share it!