As a person’s level of education increases, so does their income. Obviously, the security of a steady paycheck is the primary benefit of higher education, but you may encounter students who need a little incentive beyond mere dollars and cents. Money shouldn’t be the only important factor in choosing to pursue college. So if any of your students are convinced they’ll make a fortune on the football field, become the next Kim Kardashian, or live off some benevolent relative’s estate, try playing up these nonfinancial advantages of higher education to boost their interest in academic pursuits.
1. Creating a social network
College is a great place to meet like-minded individuals and make lifelong friends. Many people even meet their future partners on campus. Clubs, sororities and fraternities, and classes in their major provide countless opportunities for students to get to know people who share common interests. Group activities created in these settings can teach students to have productive discussions and argue effectively. Students may also meet fellow professionals in their future career fields, which allows them to create a network of contacts that will help them down the road. College is the original social networking site.
2. Being an informed member of society
Simply put, an educated person is a more informed person. College coursework inherently teaches critical thinking skills and encourages students to look at things in new ways. Perhaps the unexamined life is worth living, but I would venture to say it’s not nearly as interesting as its fully examined counterparts. Regardless of a student’s major, they will most likely take a broad range of classes—and after four years of exposure to diverse subjects, students are usually well-rounded individuals better prepared to do things like making important life decisions, engaging with coworkers, managing their finances, and even participating in politics. All those papers and class discussions will make them better writers and speakers and help them communicate more in the real world. Let your students know that, even though they’ll be working toward a degree in a specific subject, the possibilities for learning life lessons and expanding their worldview are substantial.
3. Leaving a legacy
In addition to long-term monetary advantages such as job security and the related benefits, a college education can also lead to a better life for your students’ families, both now and in the years to come. Many schools offer scholarships, grants, or reduced tuition to siblings of current or former students. And thinking further into the future, your students’ children may one day take advantage of alumni affiliation scholarships and grants, or in the case of some of the more elite institutions, legacy admission. Plus, children of college graduates are more likely to go to college than children of nongraduates, which is a legacy in and of itself.
True, a steady paycheck is perhaps the most desirable outcome of a college degree. But the knowledge, friendships, and life experiences can’t be quantified, and you can help get your students motivated about their college careers by stressing the importance of these additional benefits.
If your students are hesitant about college because they don’t know what they want to do with their life, help them figure it out with our article How Counselors Can Help Students Explore Majors and Careers.