7 Reasons Why You Should Apply to College

For many, attending college is a dream.

For others, it’s an open door to opportunity.

And while some may be lucky enough to view it as an expectation, for many going to college isn’t a given. In fact, it’s a big decision and barriers such as navigating the application process, affordability, and admissions criteria can seem too large to overcome. In those instances, it can be helpful to consider the why before taking action.

Figuring out what makes college worth it is a great place to start: Why apply?

If you’re considering college and taking your first step toward submitting your application, you’re in good company: The data point to more and more Americans earning a diploma — in 1940, only 5% of the U.S. population held a bachelor’s degree or higher; today 42% of Americans ages 25 and older have earned some type of degree according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau’s figures.

But why could applying to college be right for you? Here are 7 reasons to help you consider starting your application today.

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1. Applying to college can be easy (really!).

If you know exactly where you’d like to apply, chances are you can start the process online via the school’s website.

Or if you want to cast a wider net to several schools, you can choose to apply all at once via the Common App, an online, one-stop application portal (more than 900 universities participate, so your school is likely listed). You simply fill out your general information once and then manage additional application materials like letters of recommendation, essays, and test scores all in the single digital platform.

2. Application fees can be waived — or even free to begin with!

Even though the average college application fee is only $50, it can quickly add up when you’re applying to several schools. But if you assumed that paying to apply to college was a given, think again! The College Board offers an online tool that allows you to search for colleges with free applications or available fee waivers, usually based on need or state of residence. You can also request a fee waiver through the Common App, another reason to consider using it to streamline your college application process.

>> Related Reading: Your Top 6 FAFSA Questions, Answered

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3. You’ll get support throughout the application process.

Even though you are the only one who can submit your application, remember that for the rest of the application process you are not alone. Tap into any resources you have available to help guide you — school counselors, teachers, coaches, admissions officers, and family members and friends who may have recently applied to college. Sometimes the best step is the first step: Apply. Making your interest official should put you in touch with dedicated resources at the college of your choice. They will help you through the application process and be there to answer your questions, big or small.

>> Related Reading: 5 Questions to Ask Your Admissions Rep

4. If you think you can’t afford college, think again.

No matter what educational path you choose after high school, you’ll need to consider how you will fund your education. First, it’s strongly suggested that all students complete the FAFSA, even if you do not plan on using financial aid. Why? One reason is that it will give the financial office at your desired school the information they need to accurately prepare your individual tuition information and options. Another reason is because many scholarships and grants require students fill out the FAFSA first. Speaking of scholarships, research what your selected schools offer (your counselor or admissions representative can help). You’ll likely be surprised by all that’s available!

>> Related Reading: Your Top 6 FAFSA Questions, Answered

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5. You’ll earn valuable skills that make you more employable.

At college, learning starts in lecture halls but then comes alive in labs, studios, state-of-the-art spaces that let you practice your craft. If you want to build buildings, robots or secure websites; create movies, podcasts or advertising campaigns; run a business, a resort or a restaurant, you’ll need to have the experience and knowledge you can only gain while earning your degree. While it’s true that some jobs value experience, many more require a degree. In fact, a recent report by the National Bureau of Economic Research states that “70% of new jobs created since the 2008 recession were in occupations that typically require a bachelor’s degree.” Earning your degree is a major factor in gaining employment. Again, applying is the first step!

>> Related Reading: How Career Outcomes, Social Mobility Make JWU a Top Choice

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6. College is a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore your interests, in the classroom and beyond.

It’s no surprise that earning your college diploma will offer career benefits, but applying to and attending college gives you access to life-defining experiences that you’re unlikely to get anywhere else. You can join clubs that help grow your professional or extracurricular interests and build your résumé. The world is your classroom when you study abroad — an amazing chance to understand and appreciate other cultures and worldviews (and earn college credit in the process). But ultimately when you enroll at a university, you join a community. Together you’ll cheer on sports teams, take part in campus events and traditions, and even build a connected network as alumni.

7. No matter how you look at it, college is worth it.

Recent research states that the upsides to a college education and a bachelor’s degree are endless: You’ll have higher earnings (the Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported weekly wages of $1,305 for bachelor degree holders and $781 for high school graduates), enjoy benefits like health care and retirement accounts, have a lower risk of unemployment, and much more, compared with those who stop their education at high school. The same study by the Lumina Foundation and professors from the University of Maine highlighted that the benefits only start there. In fact, college graduates, on average, enjoy an improved quality of life across various measures of health and happiness. Even communities benefit, as college graduates are more likely to volunteer and be civically engaged.

Why apply to college? It’s a great question with even better answers. Start filling in the blanks on your college application today and create your own amazing outcomes and future!

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