Going to college is a major decision. Not only does doing so require significant time, effort, motivation and brain power but typically costs a lot of money. With these factors in mind, you may want to know what you or one of your children are getting yourselves into. The good news is that the costs tend to have a positive payoff in more ways than one. For example, consider these ways that college affects students. 

1. Development of Verbal, Quantitative and Subject Matter Competence

When you first start looking at the cost of tuition and the interest rates on student loans, you might feel overwhelmed by the thought of getting a degree. However, you will not be going to school for nothing. In return for the cost, most students significantly develop their verbal, quantitative and subject matter competence. 

2. Cognitive and Intellectual Development

As a result of further developed verbal and quantitative skills, individuals who attend college typically experience an increase in overall cognitive and intellectual development, too. If you want to become smarter, increasing your level of education can be an excellent way to do so. Keep in mind, individual results in college can vary. What you put into the experience also matters. 

3. Psychosocial Changes

Another major way that college affects students is in the many psychosocial changes that many people undergo during this time. Take a moment to think about your social interactions and how they might change with the introduction of college. Consider, for example, the transition that many people go through when moving from elementary school to middle school or from middle school to high school. Many friendships and behavior patterns change as a result of the different environments. A similar phenomenon can occur with college but to a different degree because of the freedom of adulthood. 

4. Attitudes and Values

Because college is a time of learning, it is also common for students to reflect on their attitudes and values while taking classes. Depending on their course of study, they may encounter many perspectives that differ from those that they grew up with. As a result, this is also a critical time for many people’s moral development as they learn more about different philosophies and beliefs. 

5. Educational Attainment and Persistence

When someone attends college, it has a positive impact on the likelihood that he or she will complete classes, graduate and possibly go on to continue his or her education at a higher level. It also has a positive impact on other members of the student or alumni’s household. For example, children of parents who have attended college are more likely to attend college themselves. 

6. Career and Economic Outlook

Attending college and having a better career and economic outlook go hand-in-hand. For example, having at least a bachelor’s degree qualifies individuals for a significantly higher number of open positions in a variety of sectors and locations. Similarly, college graduates tend to economically suffer less during times of economic recessions. If you want to have more of a financial safety net for the long term, going to college can provide the skills, knowledge and experience to help with that. 

7. Quality of Life After College

How happy are you? Maybe going to school could make you smile more. According to health researchers, having a college education also correlates with future happiness levels. One reason for this is that after-college quality of life is usually between than before-college quality of life in terms of people’s satisfaction with how their life is going. From an economic and psychological perspective, this makes sense: When you can pay for the essentials, it is easier to relax more often. 

Attending college is not something you or your child should do without giving it careful thought. After all, it is a big decision. However, there are many positive reasons to consider going. Knowing more about how the experience may affect you can help you prepare.