How To Succeed in College/Should You Go To College

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A question that every potential college student should ask is: Should I go to college? While the answer for you may seem obvious, there are a number of factors to weigh when considering this issue.


Jobs and Income[edit]

Attending college does substantially increase one's income.[1] Individuals who attend college have substantially higher lifetime earnings than do individuals who do not attend college, on average. Another benefit of college attendance is greater choice in jobs. Attending college increases the number of jobs for which one is qualified.

Civic Engagement[edit]

One of the more interesting correlates of attending college is an increased propensity to participate in civic life. Civic participation involves doing volunteer or unpaid work with voluntary associations, charitable groups, or political involvement. Individuals who graduate from college are 2.1 times more likely to volunteer for civic, community, or youth groups and 1.7 times more likely to volunteer for charitable organizations or social welfare groups than are non-college graduates.[2] Overall, 13% of college graduates volunteered for civic, community, or youth groups and 9% volunteer for charitable organizations or social welfare groups in one study, compared with 5% and 4% of non-college graduates, respectively. Additionally, individuals who were unlikely to attend and complete college see the greatest benefit to civic participation as a result of attending college.

Why are college graduates more likely to volunteer? Prior research suggests that college students learn about the civic norms and responsibilities required to govern democratic societies in college. Additionally, college students are often encouraged to participate in charitable work. And college students receive training in organizational skills that facilitate civic engagement. As a result, college graduates are more likely to recognize the importance of volunteering and be good at organizing volunteer activities.

Not only do individuals benefit from college, but so does society in general.



  1. Brand, Jennie E., and Yu Xie. 2010. “Who Benefits Most from College? Evidence for Negative Selection in Heterogeneous Economic Returns to Higher Education.” American Sociological Review 75(2):273-302.
  2. Jennie E. Brand. 2010. “Civic Returns to Higher Education: A Note on Heterogeneous Effects.” Social Forces 89(2):417-433.