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What is College For?

Updated on April 18, 2013
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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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    • Diane Woodson profile image

      Diane Minton 4 years ago from Evansville, Indiana

      For the 7 years 1 degree and 2 1/2 years grad school, I am happy I did it all. It made me a better rounded more highly educated person. I might not have to depend upon those things now as I am retired, however they keep my mind realizing I can excel in writing and be a more open-minded person than I would have been had I not achieved as I did. I am able to see things that maybe others might not because of the education I have. College is to prepare us for the future no matter what it holds for us and to make us more confident. I think scholarships should be available for many, as they are and that most people with high grades should be awarded Grants, instead of having to do the loan option, which makes it so difficult for them to pay back, thus causing them to be financially independent much less sooner.

    • Sethughes profile image
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      Sethughes 4 years ago

      Thank you both very much. Higher education is available to us thanks to devotion and faith of those who have fought to assure that we can have it. It is only right that we approach it as such and truly benefit from it. Thanks for reading!

    • Xenonlit profile image

      Xenonlit 4 years ago

      Well written! Many people ask whether college is necessary and they intend to argue with anything they read or hear. This is a great hub for the supporting side. Voted up and awesome.

    • yoginijoy profile image

      yoginijoy 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      What a wonderful topic with such an important message! As a college educator I couldn't agree with you more. Voting up and awesome!

      Take care! Good luck on finals coming up next month.

    • Bryceyda profile image

      Bryceyda 5 years ago from Houston,Tx

      Your welcome, Happy as can be with the school process just waiting to finish in a few years. Money of course is a on going cycle focusing on or everyday lives. Just wish money wasnt such a big deal sometimes.

    • Sethughes profile image
      Author

      Sethughes 5 years ago

      Oh I completely understand. I think we should be happy we have the chance to be in school and should make the most of it. Just soak in as much as you can. Money does seem to be the focal point of too many colleges nowadays.

      Thanks for reading!

    • Bryceyda profile image

      Bryceyda 5 years ago from Houston,Tx

      Loved it.

      I ask myself the same question sometimes why am I going to school for.

      I know it's for my education and learning process yet, it's hard to mention everything falls down on money all the time.

    • Sethughes profile image
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      Sethughes 5 years ago

      Thank you very much! I am still learning and am loving reading great hubs written by people like yourself!

    • Sethughes profile image
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      Sethughes 5 years ago

      Thank you for providing a real life scenario of this. Although you didn't pursue the career you studied in college, it was undoubtedly a stepping stone in discovering who you are. It sometimes takes years to figure out that what we study in college, or even in the career we are currently in isn't really what we want to do. Still, it is better to pursue your interest rather than remain unfulfilled. Passion is the important thing.

      Thanks for the vote, for sharing, and for reading!

    • Sethughes profile image
      Author

      Sethughes 5 years ago

      Thanks for the reply. I think you are right. College students face many challenges in pursuit of their education. Being able to get through it shows they have motivation and can stick with something through adversity, like you said.

      Thanks again!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      You get an A+ for this hub. Well thought out and well written.

      I think the best thing a college education does for a person is teach them that they don't know everything. It teaches them that learning is a lifelong occupation beyond how much money you make or what career you end up having. What it tells employers is that you can start something difficult, stick with it through adversity, and finish it successfully.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      This is a very useful hub and I wish I could have read it 50 years ago before I entered college. After I graduated from high school, I had my mind set on going into pre-med, getting into med school, and becoming a doctor. In hindsight I made the mistake of not first knowing myself, and coming to reality and admit what my strengths and weaknesses were academically. Yes, I did earn a B.S. in chemistry, but it was a struggle, and I eventually found out I was not meant to be a chemist, scientist, or doctor.. After going into the Navy, serving overseas, and really getting to know myself by exploring new horizons, I found that I had a talent for languages and teaching. I think too many people decide on a career in life immediately after high school without first getting to know themselves and getting a well-rounded education by being exposed to different kinds oif knowledge. Voted up and sharing.

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 5 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Oh and Seth btw welcome to HubPages, I see you are new here, am looking forward to reading more of your great hubs...cheers

    • Sethughes profile image
      Author

      Sethughes 5 years ago

      Thank you so much for your reply. I am so happy for people such as yourself who are able to obtain the benefits of a higher education with experiences in life. I count myself extraordinarily lucky to have been born into a point in history which allows me to attend college with some ease. I think knowledge gained by work and experience is under appreciated and am very grateful for your comments in regards to that.

      Thank you again.

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 5 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Well thought out hub. I appreciate your point of view even though I did not have the privilege of such an education. Of necessity I found a job on leaving school that would let me support myself. My "rounding" happened to me while I was working, not studying. I count myself lucky that I found an interesting job that paid well so I could travel, keep a horse, buy a house and raise a child ( computer programmer) I even liked my work. Just another view point. Others were lucky and went to college.

    • Sethughes profile image
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      Sethughes 5 years ago

      Phdast7

      Im glad to know others can relate to this view on education. Im honored to hear this from a college history teacher. Thank you very much for reading and for your comments.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Seth - From a college history teacher, you are absolutely correct and thank you, thank you, thank you. Voted Up+ and Sharing.

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      You are welcome Seth, anytime!

    • Sethughes profile image
      Author

      Sethughes 5 years ago

      I appreciate it Josh. I just think it is a shame the way so many people treat college today. I am envious of those who had the opportunity to study under people truly passionate about what they did. I guess it makes me appreciate the good ones all the more.

      Thanks again..

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      This is a very informative and well-written hub Seth! All students should stop by and read this! lol This is chock full of good advice! Voted up, useful and awesome!

    • Sethughes profile image
      Author

      Sethughes 5 years ago

      Thank you, very much. I appreciate that and am glad you enjoyed it.

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 5 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      This is a well written and interesting hub at so many levels...

      Love the quote by Hutchins...Voted up & Interesting etc...cheers