What I Learned in College

May 20, 2010 at 2:16 pm 2 comments

The debate rages on as to whether all students should go to college. Graduation rates vary widely by state, from an abysmal 22% (Alaska) to a more promising 69% (Massachusetts) [NCHEMS]. So that means somewhere between one third and three quarters of college attendees don’t graduate with a degree.  As The New York Times recently pointed out in the article “Plan B: Skip College,” that’s a lot of money to end up without a degree. College isn’t for everyone. More vocational training and 2-year degrees should be available.

That said, I’m still a fan of college.  And since my 25th Reunion is fast approaching, I’ve ruminated on several reasons why.

  1. Time to Grow Up.  College gives you wide berth and time to mature. Honestly, who is ready for a career at 17? ‘Nuf said.
  2. Roommates.  Dealing with strangers up close and personal is a serious challenge, especially for those of us who grew up without siblings. But it’s an ideal course in inter-personal relations and negotiation. Not to mention setting boundaries.
  3. Professors. Learning how to navigate the power relationship of professor-student, particular in the smaller courses where one sees them as individuals, is an excellent primer in dealing with clients or bosses in the future.
  4. Lack of Sleep. Surmounting an often self-induced lack of sleep to deliver a term paper or passing exam grade is excellent preparation for working motherhood or fatherhood. There is nothing like a baby with an ear ache all night to make participating in a morning meeting a serious feat of super-human strength.
  5. Friendships. There are some friends you just know are there, no matter what, and many of these bonds are fired in the furnace of collegiate life.
  6. Extra-Curriculars. There’s nothing more extravagant and wonderful than the smorgasbord of activities offered at college. From the college radio station and newspaper to the medieval club and frisbee team, these choices offer lifelong memories, friendships, and ongoing interests.
  7. Connections. OK, for those of you who yearn for me to cover some “practical” side of college life: I have thousands of connections at my fingertips through my college alumni office as well as my own friends. And yes, connections help in life and work.
  8. Research.  If you don’t know how to learn something new, then you’re stuck recycling the old. It’s amazing how many people don’t know how to find out something, even with the crutch of Google and Wikis. College teaches you how to research information, and more importantly, how to assess the veracity and biases of your sources.
  9. Ideas.  College is not just about book learning or a list of facts to absorb or “career preparation.” It is about the world of ideas and the people who have them, including you. Engaging in the world of ideas is important preparation for life, promoting civic participation and a richer life, regardless of career.
  10. I couldn’t think of a 10th benefit of college, but I’ll bet you can!
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Entry filed under: education, Leadership. Tags: , , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ami  |  May 20, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    College is where I learned about life, about reactions and consequences, about living and learning outside the ‘protective bubble.’ I also learned about freedom and independence (all things from which I was shielded before college). and . . . other stuff 😉

    Not sure I think college is the right thing for everyone. While there are a lot of good technical skills taught in college, there seems to be less focus on entrepreneurial skills (at least there was less focus when I was at school) and on self-sufficiency in business. College seems ‘safe’ to me – but not necessarily critical. But for people who love learning for learning’s sake, college can be heavenly.

    Reply
  • 2. Paul Hayslett  |  May 20, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    Excellent list!

    My #10 would be: Diversity. College forces engineers to room with poets, sociologists to eat dinner with historians, linguists to share the TV remote with forestry students, not to mention mixing cultures, religions, sexes, sexual orientations, etc. Contact with other world-views can be jarring at times, but is always enriching. Learn at college to cherish and cultivate those cross-cultural exchanges and hold onto it afterward, when it becomes far too easy to self-segregate by color, career, or income level.

    Reply

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Amy DeLouise Producer/Director/Author

Amy DeLouise Producer/Director/Author

Video and multi-media producer, brand wrangler and marketing collaborator, waking up audiences nationwide as a workshop leader/speaker, love creating mission-driven, advocacy communications. Violinist and a cappella singer.

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