How Important is Higher Education in the 21st Century?

Higher Education

Last Updated on May 30, 2023 by

Higher education is expensive, and that is putting it lightly. If you remove the students who get a full-ride through university, the rest finish school with insurmountable debt in student loans. The high cost of a college education is only one excuse people use not to pursue higher education. There is also the issue that many successful people, the likes of Bill Gates, Michael Dell, and Steve Jobs, skipped out of college in freshman year. Add the fact that you can find all the information you want on Google and YouTube today, and many people see no reason to join college.

However, higher education serves many other purposes, some of which are not emphasized in today’s culture. In this article, we delve into the importance of higher education, despite the avalanche of free information available to today’s generation.

Career preparation

A few lucky students know what they want to do with their lives before they leave high school. This is highly probable if you went to a school that focuses on skills-based learning and self-reflection. The Global Indian International School (GIIS) is the best high school in Malaysia Kuala Lumpur providing students with an interactive and holistic learning environment to promote 21st-century skills.

However, most kids are still clueless about their future at age 17. College plays a significant role in helping such students lean towards the right path. During the first one or two years in college, students are not allowed to pick an interest. They do all the subjects and participate in every area to see what tickles their interest more. By the third year, both the student and the lecturers have identified their strengths, areas of interest, and a likely career path to take.

More opportunities and more money

The most obvious reason for pursuing higher education is more money. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a high school graduate’s weekly earnings were $730 in 2018, while individuals with a college degree earned $1198 per week. This translates to $30,000 per year compared to $54,704 that a college graduate earns annually. Individuals with a degree also enjoy other benefits such as health and life insurance and car loans.

The unemployment rate is also higher for high school graduates at 4.1% compared to only 2% for university graduates. This is because the job market is highly competitive, and employers have the luxury of picking the most learned and experienced individuals first.

Meeting future demands

The job market is changing rapidly with the growth of automation and artificial intelligence. A huge chunk of jobs today will be taken over by AI in the near future, leaving many people jobless. Higher education in the 21st century equips students to stay relevant in the wake of automation so that robots won’t face them out. Students are taught how to work and dominate artificial intelligence instead of stepping aside.

Real work experience

As companies advertise internship and summer job opportunities, one of their requirements is a college abstract. These opportunities give students real work experience and prepare them for real careers. As part of the curriculum, university students must take at least six months internship-paid or not, to gain some real experience in their field of study. This also gives students a chance to decide if they are on the right career path or not.

Research and development

A critical role of colleges and universities is to drive innovation through research and development to find solutions to global issues. Many of the best advances in technology, health, security, and international development in recent years were born from the research done by university students.

While the benefits of such research seldom benefit the students in question, it builds them career-wise. First, such research will come in handy when you are doing your thesis or doing a project for a master’s degree. Secondly, research and development experience teaches students how to search for information, ask the right questions, think critically, and solve problems. These are qualities that employers search for, and they will also help you as an entrepreneur.

A happier and healthier life

Among the many benefits of higher education is that college graduates seem to live a much healthier and more productive life. Research shows that degree holders are less likely to smoke, get into fights, and become obese. Apparently, higher education makes people more aware of their personal choices and consequences.

Other studies show that college graduates are more politically and economically aware. They get involved in effecting the change they want to see by volunteering, voting, and participating in community issues, something high school graduates don’t seem interested in.

As William Butler said, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” Higher education is a long-term investment in who you become for the rest of your life. It sets a fire under you to continue developing yourself and the people around you.


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