What is College For?
If you asked 50 students today why they were attending college, the majority of them would probably respond, “So that I can get a good job and make more money.” While this is most assuredly a benefit and reason to enroll in college, it is often misrepresented as the only reason to go to college.
Contrary to the response of many current students (not all) and the persuasions of many college recruiters, there are numerous, equally important reasons that a person ought to attend a university.
So what is college for?
To Teach Wisdom
Imagine yourself sitting in a classroom in ancient days listening to Plato or Aristotle speaking on deep philosophical issues such as ethics or morality. Now imagine yourself in one of your high school or current college classes listening to a professor read from a Power Point slide. Which education would you place more value on? Why? The reason educators such as Aristotle were regarded as such great teachers is because they taught wisdom.
This is what is often missed in modern education. Many attend college because it is the normalcy upon completion of high school. It is almost as if college is regarded as the next step to a successful life, but is not given much thought. This is not how college ought to be viewed. A university's very existence is to teach its student’s wisdom. It exists to embed in us a deep knowledge and understanding of the world and our place therein. This is what the founders of many great universities hoped for. Although it may be hard for a student to understand how he is gaining wisdom in his own local university, he can and will if he chooses. The first step is to attend the college remembering this as a reason for being there.
To Make Students Well Rounded People
Another reason colleges exists is to help students become well rounded people. People often question why they are forced to take classes they will not use in their careers. It is so that they may become educated and well rounded. What does well rounded mean? It means many things. Imagine another scenario if you will. Suppose you are in your fifties and are having a conversation about politics. In the discussion, you remember something you learned from your sophomore government class in college that really stuck with you. Remembering that particular thing and being able to discuss it later on in life is another reason universities exists.
Bear in mind this is just an example. However, the point is that colleges are there to assist the students in becoming individuals who have the ability to express themselves on an array of topics throughout their lives. If we have this ability, we have become well rounded, educated people. This is a true gift in life that cannot be taken away.
To Help Students Decide What They Want to Do
Many people have no idea what they want to do with their lives and worry about it constantly. Even while attending college, many find themselves struggling with making a final decision on the career they wish to pursue. This need not be the case. College is a place to learn about yourself. We should never believe that we have to know our life plan upon enrolling in college. In fact, we should think just the opposite. The average American student will be required to take around 40 college courses in pursuit of a degree. Each and every one of these courses will shape and mold him into the person he will become upon graduation. If we believe that a university is there to teach us wisdom and make us well rounded people, this mindset will come naturally.
During college, we should hold to the idea that we are there to learn, not make final career plans. Even if you are 60 years old, you have the rest of your life to decide what you want to do. This idea may sound naive to many, but you will obtain a great deal more out of college if you treat it as a place for learning about yourself. If we think we must know what we want to be or do in life upon enrolling, we limit our mindset to focusing intently only on the topics we wish to learn for our career.
To Open Doors of Opportunity
Yes, universities are also there to help us get a job, but not in the way most students probably think. As stated earlier, lots of students wish simply to obtain a degree so that they can have that piece of paper that will get them a job. This is not the intention of the university. College should not be treated as a place to obtain a certificate. Yes, a college diploma will open doors to jobs that you may not have otherwise been able to get. Still, a college diploma is not always the only thing an employer is looking for. Something even more valuable than a college diploma is a college education. If all we seek is a diploma, we will stroll through our courses halfheartedly and learn far less. If we seek a college education, we will engage in courses and seek wisdom that we did not have before.
A college diploma will open a few doors for you. A college education will give you self-confidence in the job you actually do get. I assure you, companies will not keep someone who they thought had a college education on their payroll if that employees work and attitude appears to be that of someone who has only a diploma. Be fooled no longer.
To Broaden Perspectives
Typical college freshmen have little understanding of the world other than the small radius to which they have been a resident of most of their lives. This is not the case with every student, but is with most. The role the university plays in this is to open our eyes to new things. It is there to broaden our perspective. Many students will enter college and find themselves surrounded with people of differing nationalities and personalities. Nothing can teach us how to understand and cooperate with people of other cultures besides personal interaction and experience. This is something college provides. Students are made to participate with all types of people in order to gain an understanding of the diversity and differences in people from all over the world.
If students can broaden their perspectives in college, they will have a better understanding of how the world operates after they leave the university. This will benefit them not only in their careers, but in their understanding of the world as a whole. Understanding of diversity breeds equality and justice, something the world will always need.
The Gift of Education
The reasons above are why good colleges are founded. They are there to teach us wisdom, make us well rounded, help us decide what we want to do, open doors for us, and broaden our perspectives. This is what a college is for. If we attend college for these reasons, we will reap the rewards throughout our lives. We may not always realize how we will see our education as a gift while we are enrolled, but we will undoubtedly realize it later on.
Never take a college education for granted. However distorted it may be by lazy teachers or distorted practices, it is there to serve you in becoming a better person. Take it upon yourself to ensure that your time is well spent while attending a university. Learn as much as you can not only about what you wish to become, but about whom you are as a person. This will help you decide who you want to become. This is the true purpose of education.
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