Why Do People Attend College?

Higher education has been valued for thousands of years. From ancient Greeks to modern day colleges, higher education is a goal for many young people. It can be an expensive and stressful process, but year after year millions of students apply for higher education all over the world. Its benefits outweigh the negatives, or at least this is the perception that exists within society. The benefits of higher education include the specialized knowledge that can only be attained in college or university, increased employment opportunity from having a college education degree, and social interaction which leads to improvement of social skills. This paper will explore the reasons why people attend college.

Specialized Knowledge

The primary function of higher education institutions is to teach the students a specific specialization, skill or another type of knowledge beyond the high-school level. Some professions require specific education to apply for them. For example, people in the field of medicine such as nurses, physicians, and surgeons have to spend years in higher education to perform their role. Medical studies are especially rigorous because a simple mistake can harm or even kill the patient in the worst case scenario.

However, the difficulty does not dissuade the students from going through six or more years of education before they can become a legitimate doctor. The same goes for other highly demanding professions such as engineers and physicists. While it is possible to learn some aspects of engineering and physics without going to a place of higher education, the options available at engineering schools are often unavailable to individuals. Colleges and universities often employ the best possible professors and provide access to expensive equipment and software for educational purposes. People who desire to fully immerse themselves into their studies become able to do so in the college environment.

They always have access to the expert opinion of their teachers, all the required equipment is available to them, and most of the people they interact with are also focused on the same topics. These factors make the study process much more focused and informative in comparison to individual education. Besides the material that professors teach, students can gain knowledge from the special access that becomes available to them in college through online libraries.

Colleges often partner with libraries such as Jstor that contain millions of articles, books, and other research materials. These materials are often used for further research and self-education that students can pursuit in their off-time. College provides courses not only in sciences but also in arts. Film, painting, creative writing, directorship, and many other aspects of art can be studied. For example, a film class can give a person an idea of how a movie is made, from shot composition to scenario and production. Such classes can also become the source of inspiration for students because they encourage students to create their own projects, which are easier to create in the college environment.

Job Opportunities

The second reason that makes people choose higher education is tied to the way the job market perceives people with degrees. Finding a stable job in the current market is not easy, especially for a person without a college degree. Each applicant must present a resume when applying for a job. It always includes such fields as “education” and “job experience.”

A college student often has an advantage in these fields because they always show the specialty of the person and possibly the internships they went through during the college course. Such applicants are likely to be more experienced in the field, and their knowledge would have a basis in research and most current materials that were taught at college (Nunley, Pugh, Romero, & Seals, 2016).

The whole system is designed to prepare students for work in their desired profession. Some colleges even provide a chance to gain employment right after graduation through various programs and partnerships. The current economic climate, unfortunately, cannot guarantee a job for every student that graduates, but their chances are dramatically higher. They are also more capable of getting a career boost after gaining a job due to their perceived potential (Raphel, 2014).

Another option for employment lies in the professional connections that colleges allow the students to make during their studies. During the course, they may encounter seasoned professionals who are looking for talented young people to employ after their graduation. For many prominent people, their time in college led them to meet political leaders that they worked for in the future, company CEOs, movie directors, and other people who helped them build their career.

In the recent years, a new trend emerged that enabled more employment opportunities for students. When people share a common interest, they might become interested in working together after graduation, this way thousands of startup companies have been created over the last ten years. These companies often focus on the app and other technology development that is designed to disrupt existing products and services. Their success is not guaranteed, but it still provides a chance for employment after graduation.

Social Interaction

It is clear that colleges and universities serve an educational purpose. However, an often overlooked type of development can have an even larger impact on the life of a student. While high school allows students to interact with each other, this interaction is still based on the juvenile state of mind and often provides insufficient development of social skills for teenagers. On the other hand, colleges often create a new social environment for people.

They become more independent when living in dorms. Their circle of friends completely changes, and what is perhaps most important, they gain a way to start over their social life. Childhood mistakes no longer matter in the professional environment of peers who are just as interested in the same profession. The college experience is a time of opportunity for a person to find themselves, make new friends and develop their social skills as an independent adult, rather than a child. Such moments are rare in life, and only activity such as college education, army training, or specialized retreats can provide them.

For young people, they are invaluable and can not only improve their ability to communicate but also boost their interest in the profession of their choice. Even famous people, who left college before graduation such as Bill Gates, made their first successes due to the similarly-minded people that surrounded them and the extracurricular activities that were organized on campus (Swaine & Freiberger, 2014).

For many talented people, college is the first place where they can feel like they are among people who can understand their passion. They may come from predominately uneducated communities or areas where higher education is not encouraged, but in college, they will never experience persecution due to their thirst for knowledge or interest in complex ideas. It may be seen as a social bubble that does not reflect the world at large, but its purpose is to shape people who are competent in their abilities and are able to effectively communicate with others (Lakey, Vander Molen, Fles, & Andrews, 2016).


A college education may not be required for every position, but it gives people additional opportunities to find a stable job, create a career, or master a skill they are interested in. The social aspects of the education should not be underestimated either, as they allow people to become more mature and make connections based on common professional interests. A student that goes to college does so because they expect to become proficient in their specialization, they want to find a job in a specific field, and perhaps to become a complete person.

College does not guarantee employment or emotional growth, but it enables them on a level that is not available in other educational institutions. Unfortunately, the expenses required to join higher education institutions can be impossible to afford for the majority of people, and scholarship positions are extremely rare. In recent years, a few ideas about making college more affordable for people were presented. Currently, most students graduate with a lot of debt, but some politicians believe that a better system should be considered. Nevertheless, a college education remains an extremely beneficial experience for the student, and that is why people attend it.


Lakey, B., Vander Molen, R. J., Fles, E., & Andrews, J. (2016). Ordinary Social Interaction and the Main Effect Between Perceived Support and Affect. Journal of Personality, 84(5), 671–684. Web.

Nunley, J. M., Pugh, A., Romero, N., & Seals, R. A. (2016). College major, internship experience, and employment opportunities: Estimates from a résumé audit. Labour Economics, 38, 37–46.

Raphel, A. (2014). For those who skip college, challenges are rising: Pew research center. Web.

Swaine, M., & Freiberger, P. (2014). Fire in the valley. Dallas, TX: The Pragmatic Bookshelf.

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