The Gift of a Lifetime: 8 Things an Education Can Offer
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8 Things an Education Can Offer

Whether you are about to graduate from high school or are returning to school after time in the workforce, getting an education could be one of the best decisions you've ever made. Here are the eight things an education can offer.

1. Higher earnings. According to data from the national Governors Association, someone with a bachelor's degree can earn 75 percent more than a high school graduate during his or her lifetime. Those with a college degree can earn $2.1 million, the data shows, as opposed to $1.2 million for those without a college degree.

2. Entry ticket into the world of professional employment. A 2009 study by the NGA reports that by 2014, nearly 75 percent of future jobs will require a post-secondary degree or certificate. A degree will open a whole new world of opportunities that those who merely have a high school degree couldn't even enter.

3. A foot in the door of the work world. In order to succeed in the business world, you may not only need a degree, but also some previous work experience. Many coveted internships and externships are restricted to college students, and their schools' career service office can assist students with employment opportunities in the specific field of study. Working an internship or an externship also gives you the chance to explore different fields with relatively little risk. You might discover that journalism is for you after an internship at the local paper or decide that, once you've experienced the hustle and bustle of the newsroom, you'd rather do anything than be a reporter.

4. Critical thinking. College classes are all about teaching you how to think critically and analytically. It's quite possible that you will learn, for the very first time, how to analyze a short story, think about logic, argue for something that you are against and speak in public on an issue that you thoroughly researched. College teaches you the analytical ability that you need to comprehend and dissect complex situations that you might be faced with in your career.

5. Lifelong connections, personal and professional. You will find that the friendships you formed in college are strong and long-lasting. Building intellectual relationships with professors, mentors and academic staff can also have a positive effect on your professional life and development.

6. Knowledge and a diploma that lasts a lifetime. Once you have that diploma in your hands, no one can take that degree or the knowledge away from you. It's the gift that keeps on giving, and could be the best gift you will ever receive. Whether you land your dream job right out of college or not, you will always be able to check the "college graduate" box next to your name.

7. Self-confidence. Studying the subjects you are truly passionate about and finding your place in the world will give you self-confidence you never thought you had. There's nothing like knowledge to make you feel strong, confident and ready to conquer the world.

8. Opportunities to travel and study abroad. Most universities and colleges offer study-abroad programs at partner universities in other countries. This might be your first, and perhaps only, option to live and study abroad and not spend a fortune. Take advantage of it and you will find that living in another country really broadens your horizon and changes your perspective. You will also be able to earn college credits while studying abroad.

    These are only eight of hundreds of assets that an education can offer. Once you embark on your college adventure, you will be able to identify your own personal reasons. Enjoy the college journey: it's quite possible that they will be some of the best years of your life.