Ask any student in the Austin community why they go to school and you’ll hear, “to get a good education.” But do our children really act as if they need an education? The statistics certainly don’t make it seem so. According to the U.S. Census, approximately 75 percent of African-Americans do not have a college diploma. And African-American men populate prisons faster than they do college campuses. The rate of black male inmates increased by more than five times in the past 20 years, as reported by BBC News.

Our children need to know that attending college is not only the right thing to do, but the only thing to do. So how do we get this across to our children?

Below are just a few selling points to use when persuading your child to choose college.

Better job choices

Don’t tell your child that a college degree guarantees them a six-figure salary, and don’t expect that it will. In today’s society, with racial discrimination and nepotism plaguing corporate America, college graduates are not guaranteed their ideal job. What they are guaranteed, however, is the knowledge gained from a college education. So if they don’t get the job they planned, they can apply what they know to other positions. For example, an English degree may not equate to an editing position at Random House, but it can allow the holder to edit newsletters for a small business or teach English at an educational institution, options that may far outweigh cashiering at a fast-food restaurant.

A better understanding of the world

College produces well-rounded individuals, giving students the ability to hold a conversation with anyone-young, old, white, or black. Through classes like Voices in Vision: African Influence in Afro-American Art (offered by DePaul University) and Global Inequality and Social Change (offered by the University of Illinois-Chicago), students can learn about a range of topics pertinent to various world cultures. Students also have easy access to university libraries, which house books, periodicals, and computers, resources that offer a wealth of information. With a college education, if they are open to it, your child will be able to discuss everything from Beyonce’s new video to conflicts in the Middle East.

Better options for a mate

A hard truth is that drugs have limited the number of eligible bachelors and bachelorettes in the Austin community. So many men and women of marrying age are using drugs or selling them, and these candidates do not provide very good choices for our sons and daughters. On the other hand, universities are a haven for young goal-driven men and women who at least have the potential to become productive citizens. And although these same ambitious young men and women are in the Austin community, sadly, they are few and far between. If you have a son, they have an even better chance of finding a worthwhile mate in college-women outnumber men at most universities.

Better access to personal freedom

Although Chicago has several impressive community colleges, encourage your child to leave the nest and attend an out-of-town university or a college with its own student housing. Then use that as a selling point. Tell them that in college they will have the final word over their extracurricular activities and curfew. Lead them to college by dangling their personal freedom on a string. Then, once they have gained entry into a prestigious university, let them know that more than likely they will spend all night at the library since college students are advised to study approximately two hours for each hour spent in class.

Better exposure to prominent people

Not only does college challenge students academically, it also gives them the opportunity to meet prominent individuals who’ve already accomplished their goals. College provides personal exposure to politicians, civil rights activists, and entertainers, allowing them to speak and answer student questions. Tavis Smiley has spoken at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and Spike Lee has spoken at Depauw University in Indiana. These speakers sometimes even visit college classrooms to talk more intimately with groups of students. Such positive and enlightening opportunities motivate students to achieve even higher goals.

A college education is, indeed, priceless and gives your child options that are not possible with only a high school diploma. Although a college degree does not guarantee instant fame and success, it will make your child’s life rich with opportunity and wisdom-wisdom they can pass on to their family and community.