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Many of us graduate from high school, toss our caps into the air, and never pick up another book again. This is bad. I don't know exactly when it happened, but somewhere along the way American society has turned increasingly anti-intellectual — look no further than our president.
We've somehow grown to loathe experts and distrust scientists, but this is precisely the reason why pursuing a higher education is so important. Educating yourself can break you out of your bubble and open your mind — increasing your available opportunities in ways big and small. Still, many young people develop a negative attitude towards education, perhaps because they see it as limiting to their freedoms.
However, college will offer more freedom than they're used to, and for some it's even more than they can handle. Don't show up for class? Nobody cares, they'll fail you and take your money happily. The freedom is a major reason college is better than high school. This is great to learn early, and here's a few more reasons why pursuing a higher education is so important.
One of the most practical reasons for pursuing a higher education is that it prepares you for an eventual career — ideally. Some people come out of high school already knowing what they want to do, so getting a degree in that field can help make them more employable. They'll gain the skills that they need, and maybe even make a few connections for later down the line.
This can also work if you have no idea what you plan to do with your future. Having goals are great, but things you want at 16 or 17 can seem pretty silly a few years down the line. You can kick around some general education classes and see what sparks your interests. Don't rush, you've got at least four years.
Many major colleges and universities encourage incoming students not to select a major until after their freshman year, and in some cases, their second year. More time to marinate on what you want to pursue will make your decisions more meaningful.
Not every reason for pursuing a higher education is monetary. Some of the best reasons for attending college is to grow personally, to better yourself in a variety of ways. Going to college can help you learn to think more abstractly. While this won't change your intelligence, it can definitely change your outlook.
Going away to school will improve your communication, both written and verbally. Many higher education programs feature advanced writing and speaking assignment, preparing students for future jobs or speaking engagements. This goes hand-in-hand with your critical thinking skills, as you can only write or speak as well as you think.
There are many things to know that will broaden your prospects in life, and pursuing a higher education will expose you to many of them, possibly helping you find your passion — passion you maybe never knew you had. Putting yourself in a open-minded and exciting setting can spark sudden interests, or help you see things from an angle you've never quite taken a look at.
Higher Earning Potential
If you want to make more money, then you'd be wise to graduate from college — which is not to say there aren't many successful college dropouts. Graduating from school simply makes it easier and leaves you better prepared.
Those who made pursuing a higher education a priority typically have more jobs open to them than those who don’t further their education after high school. College graduates also usually earn more money than non-graduates, and the pay scale tends to rise with each successive degree.
People who don't graduate high school can expect to earn only about $10,000 a year. That doubles if you graduate high school, but it's still not much to live on. Earning a bachelor's degree will more than double the pay of a high school graduate, with the annual salary averaging about $42,000 according to a study done by the US Census Bureau. Not sticking it out and finishing school can lead to some big regrets down the road — especially in your bank account.
Pursuing a Passion
Pursuing a passion is closely related to personal growth, but it deserves a category all to its own. Sometimes this is looked down upon, and some people ascribe to the school of thought that your major should be practical, and come with a clear-cut end goal. This is bad logic, because many of the best majors don't come with high-paying jobs. Pursuing our passions is an extremely important component of a healthy, well-examined life.
Why major in English or the Arts then? Many would say you shouldn't, it's a waste of time and money. But why wouldn't you want somebody that can write well, or is a creative thinker? These people can thrive in a variety of environments given the opportunity.
Art takes time, and if we don't foster the most creative among us, our world will go even further down the path of becoming one giant strip mall. Thinking about great films and literature can be every bit as important as becoming an accountant, something often overlooked when pursuing a higher education.