Education logo

Social & Emotional Benefits of College

College isn't only about intellectual learning. Learn the social & emotional benefits of college.

By Bill ShaffirPublished 6 years ago 6 min read

It’s a right of passage for most any 18-year-old. By the time you’re in your senior year of high school, you’ve probably already applied to the college of your choice, and summer begins the countdown of your first taste of independence. What you’ll find in the fall is that there are many social & emotional benefits of college.

More Health Conscious

Did you know that college graduates exercise more and that fewer of them smoke? By increasing their brain power, students increase emotional development. Because of this, students develop the capacity to make better choices in the long run. Even if you are not majoring in a health-related program, they have learned to make a responsible decision about the health of their body and mind. College will support student ability to evaluate long-term goals. Yes, college students are known for their partying, but come graduation, their social and emotional learning has peaked, setting the stage for the next phase of their lives. They are more equipped to appreciate the value of healthy eating, exercise, and saying no to cigarettes and drugs.

Increased Self Esteem


Even the high school student with the lowest self confidence graduates college with increased self-esteem. Why? Because the school climate in college promotes academic, social, and emotional growth. Social interaction is the key to survival when they’re away from their parents for the first time. This allows them to learn effective social skills that, once mastered, opens up a whole new world. The social and emotional learning (SEL) that students get from college is priceless. American Institutes for Research show that students engaged in SEL programs before college have an easier time in college and in the job market; but for those who have not been enrolled in that type of learning program in elementary school, college provides a natural education through social interaction. The effort is collaborative for academic and social behavior.

Increased Self Awareness

Self awareness is another long term benefit of being enrolled in a college education program. Suddenly, a student is on their own and their emotional development blossoms. Students develop a better sense of who they are, and when faced with a choice, will make the responsible decision. Effective SEL can start in elementary school, but often doesn’t. Typically, social and emotional learning begin to take places when they are forced to take care of themselves. College is a great learning program to support student development. This is a middle ground between being taken care of by their parents but quite being out on their own. This is where self awareness develops, and this helps the student mature and develop into the adult they are meant to become.

Gain Independence

In the long run, independence is one of the most important things to learn. Being dependent on someone or something does not allow for personal growth, and holds you back. College provides students with the social interaction they need to feel confident on their own. Discerning the difference between friendships versus individuality in high school is exceptionally difficult for young students. When they learn they can do things on their own, and can also develop a network of people to support them when needed, they grow by leaps and bounds. Students engaged in academic social and emotional learning in SEL programs at a young age have a huge advantage. However, the American Institutes for Research reveal that there is a collaborative for academic social growth when combined with going to college. Even those without the early learning develop a strong sense of self, independence, and emotional and social growth from the school climate in college.

Become Worldly

Students who go to college become more worldly. They may not have even left their home country, but being immersed in a school climate, filled with students from different places across the globe, enriches emotional development. In the long run, being worldly provides students with effective social skills that will serve them well in the work force. Social interaction with students from other cities and other countries. Students develop curiosity about different cultures, which increases their social and emotional learning. Living in dorm rooms with people different from themselves will support student enrichment long term. Over time, and throughout life, college graduates will be able to make a responsible decision when it really matters, whether it’s about jobs, promotions, spouses, finances, and more.

Good at People Reading

Another academic social and emotional benefit of college is the increased ability to read people. Students engaged in an education program of higher learning are bound to interact with a diverse group of other students. This type of SEL has been documented by the American Institutes of Research. Some states offer SEL programs in elementary school, providing a collaborative for academic social learning which carries through life. The ability to read people helps significantly in all aspects of life, such as interviewing, managing, dating, and more. SEL is a learning programming that can be taught or absorbed through being in the right environment. College is proving to be that environment, producing intellectually smart adults who are also socially and emotionally intelligent.

Gain Networking Skills


College is a person’s first real stab at networking. Most students go through elementary school and high school with the same kids, and even if they’ve moved or went to a new high school, the networking is minimal due to the structure of classes and school climate. College friendships versus high schools friendships are much more layered and complex. In high school, social interaction is limited to lunch and in the hallways between classes, which can stifle emotional development. In college however, students develop social and emotional learning through networking with fellow students in dorms, study halls, cafeterias, libraries, and more. Sometimes there is a couple of hours between classes, depending on class scheduling. This is where academic, social, and emotional education comes into play. It’s not in the classroom, but rather on campus. Students engaged in networking can make connections that last for a lifetime.

Master Making a Good First Impression

They say the first impression is the most important. College provides students with long term skills in making the best first impression through trial and error. While students are enrolled in an education program that fosters learning a certain profession, in the long run they are learning effective social skills for making responsible decisions toward how they will make that first impression. Social and motional learning takes place as the mind matures, using its environment as its learning programming. Unlike SEL programs, where social and emotional learning are taught in class to support student growth, there’s more of a collaboration for academic and social learning in college.

Aim to Change the World

Emotional development leads to empathy. While we are all born with empathy, it can take a seat on the back burner as other emotions take precedence. Students can be self serving at a young age until they are enrolled in an education program that provides them with the tools they need to excel in social interactions. Students engaged in SEL programs in elementary school learn effective social skills that put them ahead of their peers. This classroom approach of learning programming with academic, social, and emotional instruction can be hugely beneficial, but just by being in college, students are engaged in social and emotional learning without even realizing it. Those who have experienced social and emotional learning are the ones who are concerned with changing the world. Suddenly, their focus shifts off themselves and onto others as a whole.

Experience Greater Job Satisfaction

In the long run, college graduates experience reaching greater satisfaction in life when obtaining the career they are most passionate about. While a degree increases the chances of getting hired for career jobs, having solid social skills serves you better. Getting the job is half the battle. Being able to keep the job is what matters more, and that’s all about being emotionally and socially educated. The school climate in college fosters that development, and allows for students to make the responsible decision during crucial times. College students develop an innate ability to read their bosses, peers, and subordinates to help them better navigate the workforce long term. In that way, they can write their own ticket as to which jobs they get, which promotions they get, how long they stay at a job, and so on.

Respect Tradition

For most college students, they are following tradition, easily one of the biggest social & emotional benefits of college. Their parents went to college and set a good example for them to want to pursue higher education. Parents who support student growth offer a collaborative for academic social and emotional learning by encouraging college enrollment. The American Institutes for Research are highly aligned with the importance of social and emotional education, whether in the classroom or through social interaction, such as at college. When a student makes the responsible decision to go to college, they are setting the groundwork for their own children to emulate them in pursuit of higher learning and a higher standard of life. In the long run, that’s what it’s all about. Living the life that makes you the happiest.


About the Creator

Bill Shaffir

Lover of gangster films and worried about the future of artificial intelligence.

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights

Comments (1)

Sign in to comment
  • Brandon Smith2 years ago

    I think that the main advantage of a college or university is, as already mentioned, getting used to helping others and solving problems yourself. These things help with the transition to adulthood, but as well as help the education system takes a lot of time. Helping others works much better through various charitable organizations, I did so while studying and even wrote an essay as an example about my experience. So for me the whole system of education is outdated and is completely replaced by the same courses on different levels and work, where you can improve communication and understanding of people much more effectively.

Find us on social media

Miscellaneous links

  • Explore
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Support

© 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.