Americans’ Advice is Clear: College Teaches Important Life Lessons Beyond Coursework

​Trinity College by Hernán Piñera, CC license

Almost three-quarters of Americans believe college isn’t just about school—it also teaches important life lessons.

That’s according to a new poll of 2,000 adults, which revealed 73% agree that college educates you about adult life beyond coursework and the classroom.

While doing well in school and getting good grades was found to be the hardest part of college (46%), time management (45%), having more responsibilities (44%) and living on your own (43%) also were some of the top challenges.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Texas Tech University, results also revealed that 44% of respondents are currently considering returning to college or going for the first time—with 42% saying they are interested in learning new skill sets or changing career paths.

Of the respondents who have attended college, 85% believe college prepared them for adult life, but 80% agree if they could go back, they would change some things about their college experience.

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42% cited ‘helping with job interviews and applications’ as an area where colleges could improve. Being more affordable also ranked high on the list (39%).

When it comes to choosing a school, 41% of those surveyed are looking for classes or seminars that teach about life beyond the classroom.

“We all hear the national conversations about the costs of attending college, asking whether the experience is worth it,” said Texas Tech vice president for enrollment management Jamie Hansard. “While what students learn in the classroom can be foundational for the goals and careers they want to pursue, it’s important to understand that the value of college goes far beyond a person’s academic achievements.”

Of the life skills those respondents picked up during their time in college, organizational skills (53%) and discovering their passions (47%) ranked as the top two.

When asked what skills college taught them that they still apply to adult life, respondents highlighted, “how to be independent,” “how to arrive when instructed” and “how to approach people in the correct way.”

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Nearly a third of respondents who attended college said the highlight of their experience was making friends.

Seventy percent of those who attended college work in the field associated with their degree, and agreed that their career goals are more attainable if they attend college.

“It’s nearly impossible to assign a dollar amount to the value of college,” Hansard said. “How do you put a number on discovering your passion? How do you put a value on the friendships you make in college, many that last a lifetime and may help you reach your goals later in life? How do you put a number on the personal growth and development you experience along the way? College can help you do all these things and give you an education. If you take advantage of those opportunities, it’s absolutely worth it.”

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