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College Should Change Your Mind - About Something

Updated on June 6, 2017
Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran is a writer & former newspaper reporter/editor who traveled the world as a soldier's better half. Her works are on Amazon.

You leave home with the values instilled in you from childhood. Some of those values have been a part of your family, your heritage, since time immemorial. Suddenly you are on your own, living in a dorm at a college where no one checks on you, or sets your curfew, or puts gas in your car. You are free to be whatever you choose to be. The question is: what will you choose?

From Mona Lisa Smile

A college education is basically about teaching you how to learn something specific, in a short period of time, to a proficiency level sufficient to pass an examination or write an essay of the basic concepts particular to the subject you've studied. After you've successfully done this a couple dozen times, the university will grant you a degree in the discipline you chose to concentrate in as a major area of study.

They don't just let you study the law, or art, or medicine, or history. They require you take classes in a wide variety of subjects. Why do you think that is? Is it because they want to make more money off tuition, books, and fees? Well, yes they do. Is it because they have more staff in each subject than they can possibly afford if they don't fill those professor's classes with enough paying students to support the university's budget? Well, yes it is. But it is also because the philosophy of a higher education is to teach students to explore subjects outside their field of interest, to consider points of view contrary to their own, and to discover opinions and convictions they possibly didn't hold before. In short, the point of an education is to allow you to think differently.

From Good Will Hunting

Too many of today's students come to college with a determination to be unaffected by anything they read or hear while there. They already know it all. They are vested in the beliefs, traditions, bias, and downright prejudice of their upbringing. Not only have they already been taught everything they need to know as an adult, but they have been warned against the altering of a single one of these views. Their self-worth depends on an unwavering walk along the deeply rutted path of thought held by all those who are just like them. Those unlike them are worse than the enemy. They think differently. And so they are inherently wrong, right down to the ground.

Why they go to the trouble and expense of a higher education, is anybody's guess. But too often they are simply following the example set for them in their homes, churches, communities, and previous schools. There are far too many geographical regions in this country where people are so certain of their view of the world, there is no room left in their minds for a singular new point of view. They've seen all they want to see, and they've already made up their mind about all of it. What they expect to achieve by sending their children to institutions of higher learning can only be deduced to be missionary work among the heathen.

A higher education is exactly that. Its purpose is not to devalue one's beliefs, but to enrich them. It is not to securely lock the vault of the mind, but to fling the doors of the mind wide open to the light of day, the mysteries of the night, and the entire universe of the yet to be explored.

A recent Wall Street Journal article delved into this subject, "At some of the most prestigious flagship universities, test results indicate the average graduate shows little or no improvement in critical thinking over four years." The test measures the student's ability "to make a cohesive argument, assess the quality of evidence in a document or interpret data in a table." This article begs the question: is the college at fault or the student?

When my daughter graduated high school, one of the speakers at the commencement ceremony was a young woman about to enter one of the most demanding engineering schools in the world. In her speech she said she felt like an ant standing on one side, looking across the expanse of the Golden Gate Bridge. She was beginning a long journey, not knowing where the journey might take her, what challenges she would confront along the way, or even if she would complete the journey or fall along the wayside somewhere. Oh for young people today, true students of higher education, who were excited about the adventures of life and the process of learning new things. As a nation, we face too many daunting challenges to be saddled with a rising generation who think there is nothing more about which to make up their minds. Here's hoping there are some among them who dare to change their minds about something - anything.



From Rounders

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    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 6 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      On the front page of today's Wall Street Journal: https://www.wsj.com/articles/exclusive-test-data-m...

      Though they are coming to the same conclusion as I am, they blame colleges. I blame the students and their parents who have indoctrinated their children to have closed minds to any ideas other than those closely held by the family. College is the place to look at the world in new ways and consider all points of view - not just your own.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 16 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      "College was never specifically meant to be "job training", but rather "thinking" training." How true!

      Generalities are dangerous and I'm glad for educators like you who understand how to open minds to a wider world to live in. Thanks for adding to this hub.

    • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

      Sondra Rochelle 16 months ago from USA

      It is not so much college itself, but the people you meet there who affect the way you view the world. As a person with several college degrees who also was an educator for many years, I can tell you that most young people do not enter college thinking they know everything, but thirst to know it! Some, yes, may be narrow minded, but even they can become "unlocked" if exposed to the right people and circumstances.

      These days people question the value of a college education because it is so expensive and does not always produce good financial outcomes for students, but college was never specifically meant to be "job training", but rather "thinking" training. Lower levels of educational facilities should be teaching this, but rarely are permitted to do so. It's not easy to teach someone how to think,but boy,once they learn that skill...watch out!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 16 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Paul: Your story sounds familiar. Thanks for adding it to this hub. :)

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 16 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Kathleen, Going to college painfully changed my mind about specializing in science and becoming a doctor. It also showed me that there were a lot more smarter students than me. It introduced me to different people and cultures and the vice of drinking. Thanks for sharing this hub which I am sharing with HP followers.

    • cygnetbrown profile image

      Cygnet Brown 3 years ago from Springfield, Missouri

      Thanks, Kathleen!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
      Author

      Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      cygnetbrown: First and foremost, congratulations!

      I also learned that I don't have to know all the answers. I simply need to know where to find those answers.

      You got the right answer!

    • cygnetbrown profile image

      Cygnet Brown 3 years ago from Springfield, Missouri

      You shared scenes from a couple of my husband's favorite movies! I loved reading this hub because I am personally going to be graduating with a bachelor's in liberal arts this fall. I got the degree because I wanted credits for what I already knew from life (I'll be 55 in July). What I wasn't expecting was how much this experience enriched my life and helped me see the world through many more dimensions than I ever dreamed was possible. I didn't learn so much "what" to think, but "how" to think. I also learned that I don't have to know all the answers. I simply need to know where to find those answers. I wish I would have obtained my education years ago.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      vandynegl: You got it! Thank you for sharing.

    • vandynegl profile image

      vandynegl 3 years ago from Ohio Valley

      Good hub! I LOVED college for the learning experience! (yes, this is the honest truth!). I still take college courses since I believe learning is lifelong. And your title says it all, "College should change your mind." You're right. I went to college with an open mind, fortunately, but I came out with so many different views and beliefs. Such an enriching experience. Thanks for sharing!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      J-R-Fr13m9n: If that is where this hub took you, then you go there! Glad to have your comments from your own point of view. Personally, I'd rather have someone not finish their degree but open their mind, than the other way around.

    • J - R - Fr13m9n profile image

      Jane Ramona Rynkiewicz Frieman 3 years ago from Morris County, New Jersey

      Formal education is an asset. I value it yet I regret that I have not completed my higher education degree. During the course of my lifetime and donning "many hats", life experiences are the informal teachers on how we think and steer our life path. Think of the expression "If I would have known what I know now, my life would be different". Many have thought and said this. I might be threading your hub in a different direction however I find putting a different spin unearths different ways of perception.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      rebeccamealey: So glad this hub struck a chord in you. To many young people today are being sent to college, I'm afraid, with a directive not to let anything challenge their already-established convictions and opinions. That's not what a higher education is for.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Good points! I thinks many college freshman still need to explore lots of different options available to them w/o just assuming their destined role!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Thank you for putting this on Facebook. I hesitate to do that for fear of "spaming" my friends and family. I am very selective about friends on FB - much more so than HP. Your opinion on this subject was one I was waiting for. You deal with these too-often-closed minds every day. And your college is expensive!!!

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Marvelous Hub. So well written and addressing such an important topic, the great absence in America of learning for love of learning. learning to widen one's perspectives and enrich one's life. And it is a great sadness and cultural and spiritual loss that so many people go to college or university with a single goal -- to graduate quickly and obtain a well-paying job ..... and no more.

      You chose perfect movie clips and the quote by Tennyson can never be read too often. It is almost unbearably beautiful ...one of the non-remunerative, yet most important reasons for higher education ... to read and appreciate Tennyson. Each of us should be introduced to and value our Tennyson. Thank you for putting all this down on paper. Sharing. Theresa

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Alastar: What a wonderful review you bestowed on this meager writer - thank you. Your comments on this hub are particularly appreciated. I thought on this topic for an unusually long time before finally trying to put my thoughts into words. Glad to get a reaction.

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 4 years ago from North Carolina

      Going to college with a pre-determined mind set against learning anything new is more than a waste of money, it's an awful waste of enlightening and often funny oxymoron's capacity to teach and instill.

      OK, forgive the former thought. Your an obvious deep thinker with an eclectic and interesting set of hubs, Kathleen. Those were some cool accompanying vids with this write too. Well done Kathleen!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      teaches12345: A teacher should agree with this hub. You're the ones trying to open the minds! Exploring possibilities is what a higher education is all about. Thanks

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      I am in agreement with you on the belief that college should change your thinking in most areas of study. It is such a mind-opener and should allow you to explore possibilities.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
      Author

      Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      FlourishAnyway: Welcome to my hubs. I wouldn't forget a handle like yours - very inspiring. Don't think I've been "pinned" since college! Thanks.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      Great hub. Anyone who goes through college without experiencing multiple, earthshattering changes to the way they think and perceive the world wasn't turned in. Pinning. Voted up and more.

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image
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      Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Jaye and billybuc: High praise coming from the two of you. Thanks. I was concerned I wasn't making myself understood. I've been thinking about this hub for a good while. phdast7 and I have discussed it many times. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      My favorite quote of all time...Tennyson's....well done. College was the most profound learning experience for me and it definitely helped to shape me into the person I am today. Great read here Kathleen!

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

      Kathleen - I cannot find enough superlatives to do this hub justice, but I'm so happy that you wrote it--and did so eloquently. You see, the thoughts and concepts you expressed in writing have been floating around in my head for some time, but I was too lazy to coax them into an essay or article. I'm glad I didn't now, for I'm compelled to think I would not have done this topic justice as well as you did.

      Voted Up, Useful, Awesome, Beautiful and Interesting/Shared

      (HP really should add a button for Superb Quality.)

      Jaye