When it comes to discussing the cost and benefits of attending college, there are typically two camps – those who will say “a degree is just a piece of paper” and those who understand that there are benefits that reach far beyond the nice diploma that you get to frame after graduation. In addition to the knowledge that you will gain through taking rigorous courses, there is also a greater earning potential, the opportunity for personal growth through achievement, and countless opportunities to expand your social and professional network.

1. Greater Earning Potential

One of the biggest selling points for college is that you are investing in yourself and working towards a greater earning potential. While it is true that a 4-year college or university is not the only way forward, there is a lot of research out there to suggest that college grads do have greater earning potential. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an individual with a bachelor’s degree will earn approximately $27,000 more annually than an individual with a high school diploma.

This is because college grads may be more prepared for specialized fields, their skillsets are easily marketable, and networking opportunities were abundant over the last 4 years. A college degree is much more than a piece of paper when leveraged correctly.

2. Personal Growth and Improved Self Esteem Through Achievement

There is nothing in this world quite as rewarding as the feeling of accomplishment that comes from completing something as long and challenging as your post-secondary education. For many young students, there are few opportunities in life up until this point where they will face the difficult task of balancing college-level study, an honors program, a part-time job, and social activities, all while living away from home for the first time. Completing a 4-year program is no small feat and you will find that you have grown tremendously throughout the process.

3. Countless Networking Opportunities

As mentioned earlier, networking opportunities are everywhere on a college campus. Networking, or simply the act of forming social and professional relationships with others, is one of the leading ways that people find employment after graduation. It is believed that as much as 70% of all jobs are never posted publicly and these positions are filled through networking. The benefit of networking in college is that you will meet dozens if not hundreds of future professionals who you may have been classmates with, joined the same social organizations, or who you will share the title of Alumni with.