We spend so much time around here helping students find their way to college that sometimes we look past a fundamental question: Should you even go to college? And if the answer is yes, then all college-bound students should ask this important question:

WHY do you want to go to college?

For many students (and their parents) we hear a simple answer that, frankly, may not be very well thought out: so that I can get a better job. But college doesn’t teach job-training skills – employers do that. Most classes in college are academic in nature and force students to think, with only a few courses offering technical training that will help with specific job-related tasks. Of course, that depends on the major of study, but by and large college is not a 4-year job-training exercise. If that were the case then we would have many more bartenders and professional tailgaters, and we would have figured out a way to make money by binge-watching Netflix!

But seriously, when colleges ask the question “Why are you interested in attending school here?” (and many will ask this important question on their supplements, to be answered in 250-800 words), what they really want to know is, what kind of a student will you be if you attend our school? What courses will you take? In what ways do you find us to be different than other schools? And why do you want to go to college in the first place? Are you really interested in our academic offering, or are you merely applying because: A. you like our location; B. you like our football team or colors or mascot; or C. your older sister/brother attends. These questions are another way that colleges assess a student’s interest, so don’t overlook them, and think thoroughly about your response.

Given that Americans collectively owe more than $1.5 trillion in student loans, it seems appropriate to revisit another question: Is college worth it? Plus, with so many options to consider after high school–from online classes to trade schools to job experience to college to travel–what are the reasons to go to college today?

Getting some level of education after high school — whether at a traditional four-year campus or community college, or through a career-specific certificate program — pays out more often than not. Those who graduate from college will out-earn their high school peers who obtain no additional education after prom by approximately $1 million over their lifetime. That’s a significant ROI, and only one reason why college is worth it, more often than not.

In our latest podcast, we address these fundamental questions that students should be asking. Listen in as we discuss the pros and cons of college now verses in the past. And as always, please send us your feedback.

Check out this latest podcast as we dig into this topic!

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