Why Go To College?
Why go to college? Why would someone spend thousands of dollars to sit in yet another classroom? My uncle says “people that get a degree make over a million dollars more in a lifetime.” My dad counters that with “the world needs ditch diggers too.” I came to college to start my life, to become an independent man who finds his niche among society. I suppose some people can do that outside of school but I find college to be an optimum transition to the adult life as it teaches practical skills, instills a greater appreciation of the world, and makes one discontent with inequities in the community.
Although Lucius Seneca denies that a liberal education prepares anyone for life, college develops necessary skills to transition into adulthood. Seneca wrote “On Liberal and Vocational Studies” saying “Or let us take a look a music or geometry; you will not find anything in them which tells us not to be afraid of this or desire that- and if anyone lacks this kind of knowledge all his other knowledge is valueless to him.”(Seneca, 17) Seneca says that geometry, music, or poetry will not teach you what to avoid or what to desire, or essentially how to live. Although a college education might not teach you what you should desire, it teaches you what you DO desire. Taking these sorts of classes can change what you believe or desire. One may take a required math course and come to hate math, only using it to budget for the grocery store or tip a good waiter. Another person may take the same course and decide they want to become a mathematician. Either way, the math class was worth taking simply to discover one’s true interest in the subject. Perhaps in Seneca’s day, it was easy to take up a career without much education, but according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate among those who hold only a high-school diploma is more than double the rate of college graduates, and for those without a diploma the rate is tripled. With a lack of steady income raising a family is more difficult, buying a house becomes less practical, and for some, even food becomes scarce. Besides earning a degree, college teaches practical daily necessities like time management and social interaction. Time management can refer to a few things. It involves balancing class, work, and study schedules to fit into a single day. For example, if a student has class from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and must work from 3 p.m. until 10 p.m., the student must plan quite well in order to find enough time adequately study for their classes. It also refers to how one categorizes their priorities or in other words, one finds out what is important to them. I quickly learned that partying over studying only leads to a next morning headache accompanied with regret, causing the exam to be overly difficult. The ability to Interact socially is vital in life and its application is prevalent in college. Most schools require students to take some sort of public speaking course where students have to give a speech or presentation both of which are common across many career fields. Even besides this, students learn how to interact with their peers, respond to criticism, and approach those in authority. A simple example of this is peer review in a writing class where students read and critique eachothers writing. Although these are all basic skills, college provides an environment that allows students to cultivate and understand the importance of these skills.
Not only does college teach practical skills, it also gives one a greater appreciation of the world around them. John Henry Newman, a partial founder of the Catholic University of Ireland, stated that there is a distinction between a useful education and a liberal education. He wrote on liberal education in “Knowledge Its Own End”, claiming knowledge was an end in itself. Newman said “Now, when I say that Knowledge is, not merely a means to something beyond it, or the preliminary of certain...
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