A college education is an entity that is constructed by society. As such an entity, a college education can assist a person in gaining far more life experience and opportunity than a high school diploma offers. People build up expectations based on what they hear and they filter them through attitudes that are either passed on by parents or which develop on their own. Most of us view the examples of people who have had failures and successes in life after achieving a college education, and decide that college is either rewarding or college is a waste of time and money.
The truth is that a successful college career will provide the tools needed to do many things in life. Non college graduates will either not have those tools, or will have a much harder time trying to get them. As a result, college graduates are afforded more employment and career advancement opportunities. Whether a college graduate chooses to go into management or to have a lifetime non management career, those tools are still available, and they are used.
A certain body of knowledge, gained both from concentrated study in a particular field and from required and elective courses, is one of the benefits that a college education will provide. A well developed ability to read, write, and do more advanced math is a definite result of a college career. It is amazing how the enhanced ability in the “basic three” of education pays off, no matter what the postgraduate student sets out to do in life.
A discipline of thought is developed in college. One does not just read and spew back data that has been properly memorized. The ability to interpret more complex ideas and writings, to review the material critically, and to go beyond the material to develop new thought and ideas is definitely more developed in the college graduate.
When college students work and attend school, they develop fundamental behavior that goes beyond a basic “work ethic”. They learn to value the benefits of both education and work. Most college students, at one time or another, are required to complete school projects as part of a team, which teaches that there are other ways to develop teamwork skills than in organized sports.
Many college students continue their development in the arts or in athletics on a part-time basis, while pursuing other academic studies as their main focus. But college offers a far more competitive playing field than high school offered. This makes both the full time student and the dedicated part-timer work even harder to improve their abilities and performance.
An earned college degree allows entry to the great opportunities in life, including government and corporate jobs which specifically require a college degree. The Commissioned Officer Corps of every branch of the military is now closed to non degreed individuals. An earned college degree opens the doors to graduate study, where a successful postgraduate career lends even more opportunities.
When a straight up cost analysis is done, college graduates who are good workers, tend to earn more far more money over the 25 to 40 years of their working lives than it costed to attend school. While there are no promises that can be made by such social constructs as “higher education”, the lifetime benefits of a college education are highly likely to far outweigh the costs.