When I started thinking about why education is so important, I reflected about teachers I was fond of, courses that entergized me, memorable experiences, and the many friends I met along the way. Education was the cornerstone of my life: where my passion and talents surfaced, I was challenged yet nurtured and encouraged, and my dreams became a reality. I would not be where and who I am today without an education. The investment of time and money continues to be far exceeded by the return.

Going to college was a given for me. My father drilled it into my head from the time I was in kindergarten. College offered a four-year bridge into adulthood. It was my practice game before the playoffs, where I developed; learned to form opinions and viewpoints and how to appropriately express them; and gained a perspective on life and knowledge of the world around me. College exposes one to a large group of individuals who come from different backgrounds with unique experiences. This gave me the gift of diversity of thought and tools from individuals who did not think the same way I did. These interactions with others helped me broaden my thinking and shape my perspective. My college experience was extremely impactful and it taught me to persevere (it was self-funded), built confidence in my decision-making ability, taught me to accept my successes and failures, and most importantly, made me proud of the things I’d been able to accomplish in my life.

In today’s competitive world, having a college degree is often times required for an entry ticket to the interview process. In fact, it is becoming increasingly important to have an advanced degree or other certification to give you an edge, at least on paper, given the huge pool of qualified candidates you will most likely be up against. The importance of college has been recognized on a global basis, and as a result, United States graduates now frequently compete with a global pool of qualified candidates. The job market continues to be challenging, so it is critical for graduates to build a strong network of individuals who can guide them through the job hunting process or help open doors along the way. Obtaining a college degree continues to be worth the investment of time and money as it opens doors to better career opportunities and growth, and equips you with the lifelong tools critical to realizing your personal definition of success.