If you’re reading this, you probably either want to go to college or are already there. But…why? Why go to college? What’s most important to you about the college experience? It’s okay, you don’t have to answer right now—these students have some ideas for you.
We asked about 90 students, coming from both high school and college, to share what is most important to them in their college search and campus experience. The graph below shows their answers (most students listed multiple things, which is why it doesn't add up to 90!). Plus, we included a bunch of their specific reasons below.
Overall, students were more worried about paying for college than anything else (no big surprise there), but they also said higher education was important for age-old reasons like expanding their world-view by meeting new people, challenging themselves, and just learning all they could. But this was balanced with practical stuff like gaining real-world skills and experience, along with networking and career support. Only one person said getting good grades was the most important part of going to college.
How do your college priorities stack up?
What’s most important about college to these students?
“The most important part of college for me would be accomplishing research projects or getting real-world experience before I join the workforce. For example, if I pursue biomedical engineering as I plan to do, I would want to perform some kind of research project to get some work published before I have to apply for jobs in the industry.”
“Learning, and learning a lot. I'm really interested in foreign languages, in literature, in history, and in politics. In addition, I want to graduate without any debt, as well, so maintaining my scholarships is extremely important to me, as well.”
“In short, learning is the most important to me in my college journey, as well as in life.”
“Being an expert in my field is crucially important to me because I want to become proficient at what I do. I want to be able to implement my knowledge in order to use it to my advantage during work or even day-to-day life. Working closely alongside professors and even students is also essential to me. How on earth am I going to improve unless I can absorb knowledge from others around me?”
“Most importantly, I want my future college to provide me with opportunities beyond the classroom. I hope, of course, that my classes and professors ready me for life after graduation—but I also want to participate in internships and extracurricular activities that will aid me in the future.”
“The most important things in my college journey include meeting lots of new people, expanding my world-view, and learning how to communicate my ideas to a wider audience.”
“I simply want to find a career that I like and that I will be happy to work in and can support me financially in the future.”
“I think I expected two things out of college: expanding my knowledge and creating meaningful relationships. I think besides learning more and more about my desired major or field, college is a time to explore everything, even random fields you've never even thought of exploring. I also expected college to be a great time with friends. Yes, you get to meet tons of new people and be constantly surrounded by acquaintances and comrades (especially if you dorm), but I also hope to meet the friends I'll keep for the rest of my life.”
“On my college journey the most important things to me are being with experts in my field, meeting new people from all over the world, and finding the best program to fit my learning style.”
“I'm looking forward to working closely with my professors in an undergraduate-focused environment. I think meeting new people and establishing lasting connections is an essential element of the college experience. In addition, I want to find a college that seeks to reveal the joy and fulfillment that comes with knowledge and learning, and choose a major that is meaningful and exciting to me.”
“My main objective of the college journey is becoming "an expert in my field." Every course and extracurricular activity brings me a step closer to becoming an English teacher. The people I meet are an important aspect, because, as much as I love books, friends can teach you so much more. I want to be a teacher and write to help people. Anything else is secondary.”
“Finding the college that is right for me. This will be achieved based on many different factors, including people, campus, cost, academics, and extracurriculars.”
“Networking. I can never stress that enough. Scholarships are definitely important as well as meeting great people and professors. All of that should groom the student into being an expert in that and landing a job after college.”