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A study by Pew Research shows that there is significant disagreement on what college is for:
47 percent think the main purpose of college is to teach work-related skills and knowledge. But 39 percent say the main purpose of college is intellectual and personal growth. About 12 percent said the years we spend at an institute of higher learning should be devoted to both.
While 55% of those with a high school degree or less viewed college as preparation for work, only 40% of college grads and 26% of those with graduate degrees felt that way.
The big surprise to me was that only 12% fell into the "both" camp. To me, college can confer a variety of benefits - in addition to the two that Pew looked at, "earning a necessary credential" (beyond any actual skills gained), "building a network," "socialization and cultural broadening," all come to mind.
Where one falls in this belief spectrum makes a huge difference in building a college list. If you are in the "work related skills" camp, then the college brand name and quality of your fellow students won't matter much. If "intellectual exploration" is most important, than colleges that offer a rich selection of choices, engaged faculty, and a more intellectual peer group will head the list.
What other key reasons do you think Pew should have included?
Here's my starter list, maybe we'll do our own CC poll with your suggestions added:
1) Acquiring specific skills and knowledge (career related).
2) Intellectual growth and exploration.
3) Necessary credential ("min. bachelor's degree required").
4) Build a network of friends/contacts.
5) Socialization (gain experience in social situations, exposure to other cultures, etc.)