The University Network

Benefits of College: Six Things College Offers Other Than a Degree

College has always been about receiving a degree. You spend four years studying and mastering a subject, which you will then use as a springboard for a career. While education will always be the primary reason for attending college, students gain many other benefits aside from obtaining a degree.

Here is a list of six benefits students don’t always think about when considering the benefits of a college education:

1. Time to find yourself

College fosters independence. It is the first time you live on your own, free from the culture and community you were raised in. It gives you room to explore thoughts and ideas that weren’t accepted or promoted at home. With finding yourself, you cultivate ingenuity. You further your knowledge of the world around you, thus developing empathy, understanding and critical-thinking skills. College campuses are generally teeming with diverse people and culture. There will be people, places and ideologies you bump into that may unintentionally spark your interest. College gives you time and pressure to understand what you like or dislike. It promotes thought. It will bring your strengths and weaknesses to the surface, and further your understanding of yourself.

2. Time Management

The truth is, college can cause a lot of stress. College students today are forced to take a full course load, have a job to pay for housing and living expenses, earn internships to gain real world experience, and maintain a social life. The benefit of all of these stresses is that you become stronger from them. You learn how to weigh responsibilities. Time management is a pivotal tool in finding a job and developing into a functioning adult. While missing a homework assignment seems life-ending at the time, it isn’t as bad as missing an assignment further in your life that could cost you your job. College is a time where you can learn to master these skills and afford to mess up. It could be seen as a trial run before your professional life. Learning how to manage your time will give you an open slot for relaxation, entertainment, or merely sitting on the couch with friends. It will give you more flexibility and lessen your stress.

3. Independence/Responsibility

College is the first time you live on your own. You are free to make your own decisions and live your life without anyone breathing down your back. This can be scary and intimidating, but more importantly, freeing. Living on your own forces independence, and college is a great buffer zone to explore your independence before being thrown into the workforce. You create your own schedule. You decide if you are going to wake up for class. It is only your choice on how you eat, if you exercise or not, whether you become a hermit, or if you want immerse yourself in clubs and organizations. Making independent decisions and learning from the benefits, or repercussions, teaches you responsibility. You are no longer worried about disappointing your parents, your coach, or high school teacher. Your decisions only aid or hurt you.

4. Friends/Relationships

Friends and relationships in college are unique and strong because you are all advancing together. College is hard, fun, demanding and rewarding. There are periods of significant ups and down. It is where you grow and become yourself. The friends you meet in college are different than friends in any other portion of your life. You become who you are with these people. A lot of the time you live together. You rely on these friends for comfort, advice, to listen, to talk, and sometimes just get you a refill on your coffee. You meet your friends and get to know them over four years as if they were siblings. Developing friends in college often comes from a shared interest or passion. This bolsters your relationship and gives it a strong foundation.

5. Budgeting

SEE: 5 Strategies for Budgeting in College

While worrying about money or spending habits in college can damper your experience, learning how to budget your money, without a doubt, is an imperative life lesson. College is very expensive. With a part-time, low paying job, it is next to impossible to pay for school and living fees and still maintain a social life. Like weighing time and priorities, students are forced to weigh social life. You can’t afford to go out to eat, or for a drink, every night. You will have to skip that concert that all of your friends are going to because you went to a football game last Sunday. College teaches you to budget your money so you are better prepared when you have a more steady paying job, but more bills to pay.

6. Networking

SEE: Networking Tips for College Students

College today is not the same as yesteryear. While achieving good grades and earning a degree is still important, college degrees are much more common than ever before. Instead of setting you apart from the crowd, a college degree merely makes you equal to your competitor. The thing that sets people apart, is who they know and how well they know them. Networking is what lands you jobs and internships. College campuses are hotbeds for networking. It is essential to treat everyone you know as a possible resource for the future. I’m not saying to foster fake relationships, but you should never shy away from a handshake. Staying in your room to study for an exam could be less beneficial than going to watch a speaker in your field. Don’t be afraid, or feel like it isn’t necessary, to make yourself known. College provides easy ways to network with professionals or even a peer in your field.

The opportunity to attend college is not always available or the right one, but the benefits of attending college extend beyond a piece of paper confirming your graduation. College teaches you life lessons, gives you the opportunity to find yourself, rewards you with life-long friends, and immerses you in a diverse community. College campus is where students can grow mentally and emotionally.

SEE ALSO: The Single Most Important Skill You Don’t Learn in College: Listening