Updated: Dec 10, 2019
Just about every child is taught that going to college or university is very important. However, few people stop to take the time to thoroughly explain exactly why it can be so important. Is college just a magical place that grants you success for the remainder of your life? Obviously, this is not the case. However, it can be seen as a place to get you started on the pathway to success through many different ways.
Discover who you are
I was always told that I would “find myself” in college. They say this is because you usually meet your lifelong friends in college. It’s also the first time you are given almost complete responsibility. No more curfews, punishments, or any other restrictions from parents. At this stage, a person learns to make restrictions and limits for themselves. This is an important skill for life. College gives you the opportunity to learn how to be independent, before you are truly on your own. When in college, you have more freedom. However, you don’t have to worry about many responsibilities, such as paying for bills, rent, or a mortgage. Because of this, college is not completely overwhelming. It can be kind of like “training wheels” for the real adult life. It’s like when a trainer tries to teach an animal how to catch its own food by placing the prey in the same cage. The animal still has the responsibility of catching the animal, but the task isn’t quite as difficult as finding the animal in the wild. This process slowly helps the animal adapt without being completely “thrown out of the nest.” All of these metaphors are just to say that college gets you more prepared for the troubles of the adult life ahead of you.
College also helps you explore. Exploration is the key to knowledge and helps widen the options you have. For a person unsure of their perfect job, a college education could be a way to discover it. In college, there are numerous courses offered. There are courses you like, courses you dislike, courses you have no opinion on, and courses you didn't even know existed. Because of this, a college education can benefit almost any person pursuing a career. Even if the person believes they are certain about a career, this can easily change after going to college. A college education can show various aspects of a certain job and may show things that discourage or entice you to pursue a certain career field. College can also show you career options you never even thought about, and the more you know, the better.
Although there is the famous proverb, “Opportunity only knocks once,” there is another phrase that replies to this and says, “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” I’ve always tried to live by the latter expression. A person will most likely go nowhere in life if they sit around and wait for “opportunity” to knock. Doing this is the same thing as waiting for a person to visit your house, but never actually inviting them or even preparing for them to arrive. This idea seems absurd, but it is the same concept as simply waiting for opportunity to knock. Going to college builds many doors for an opportunity to “knock on.” Not only is a college student more mentally prepared for the job, but they will have documented proof of competency (a degree). Although a degree does not always represent competency, most employers look for employees with a certain college degree. A college education safely secures at least one strong, wooden door for opportunity to knock on.
In the end, a college education is the decision that will provide a potential pathway to a successful future. Although it is more hard work to do after a high school education, I believe that it is definitely worth it. Four years of hard work (or more) is worth a lifetime of success and happiness. In those four years of the college education, wonderful friendships will definitely be made, responsibility will be taught, and career exploration is bound to happen. As if this was not enough, a college education also helps make it easier for opportunity to come around and visit. With all the benefits of a college education, it is no wonder why there is such an emphasis on attending and completing college. Although having a college education isn’t the only road towards success, it can definitely make the journey a little easier.