Effects of a College Education

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A college education has numerous impacts on an individual other than just a better education. Individuals who have attended college and graduated tend to be more successful in life than those who didn't. There have been studies through the years that provide evidence showing that a college education can be very beneficial to a person and have major impacts on their lives. The most comprehensive review to date on the question of the impact of college is found in Ernest Pascarella and Patrick Terenzini's book, How College Affects Students. They used over twenty-six thousand practical studies completed over a period of 50 years in order to what aspects of a person's life is affected during college. They concluded that an individual's cognitive skills and intellectual growth; changes of identity, self-concept, and self-esteem; changes in relating to others and the people around them, attitudes and values, moral development, career choice and development, economic benefits, and quality of life after college are all affected while the student attends college. The details concerning cognitive skills and intellectual growth suggest that "students make statistically significant gains during the college years on a number of dimensions of general cognitive capabilities and skills" (p. 155), including the ability to deal with conceptual complexity, formal abstract reasoning, critical thinking, the use of evidence and reason to address ill-structured problems, and both written and oral communication. Most of these benefits seem to occur during the first two years of college. Research on the net effects, or changes that can be accredited to the college experience itself, rather than other potential influences, of these outcomes suggests that college has a "net positive influence on diverse measures of critical thinking" (p. 156), reflective judgment, and intellectual flexibility, above the maturity level of individuals who didn't attend college. Perhaps "college is the one...
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