University as an obligation
For far too many students, the university experience is something they feel obligated to participate in. A right of passage after 12 years of elementary and secondary education they must go through in order for future employers to take them seriously. The truth of the matter is (and a plethora of research backs this up),
work experience is often more important than your degree
. While you certainly aren’t going to be heading up the cardiology department of a hospital without having been accepted to, and completed medical school, and you aren’t going to be testing any bridges’ structural integrity without an engineering degree, most undergraduate degrees are more symbolic than they are practical, as far as employers are concerned.
The takeaway from all of that, however, should not be that school is useless. Quite the contrary. It should be that there is much more to school than a few extra letters on your resume, and a four-year extended vacation. Keeping the below thoughts in mind will hopefully help you conceptualize your university experience for the better, and get more out of it that you ever thought possible.
Learning to read and write critically
Or, as it was put in a 2012 Evolllution article by Andres Fortino, “
the creation of prepared minds
.” A prepared mind is not just one that is ready to compete (in a credential wars sense) in the current labour market, but one which fully understands the world, the scope of its problems, the history surrounding them, and has the ability to weigh, filter, and dismiss information critically and efficiently. Most of these skills are imparted through critical reading and writing practice.
When you enter university, if you enter with no other discernible goals, enter with the desire to become a better reader and writer. This is especially salient in your humanities courses, of which you will probably be asked to take at least a couple. When you enter into a course in communication, history, philosophy, or political science, go in with the goal of not necessarily walking away an encyclopedia of knowledge (though that is always to your benefit). Go in wanting to hone your ability to express yourself and engage with arguments, opinions, and information in general. Being able to fully articulate yourself with ease, and engage with and interrogate complex information, are skills which will deepen and improve your life experience.
Learn from others (especially people who inspire you)
Another layer of your overall university experience should be the knowledge you gain from others. You will never be surrounded by as many intelligent, interesting, life-altering people as you are during your university education. People from all over the world, from all walks of life, with experience and information to impart will be around every corner. That’s not to say you are going to become friends with every single person you meet, or that everyone you come into contact with is even going to be willing to give you the time of day, but if you approach your postsecondary career as an opportunity to learn from the unique life experiences of others (both their successes and mistakes), you will emerge a more complete person.
The 19th century German statesman and political genius Otto von Bismarck said “Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.” Pay attention to what does not work for the people around you, as much as you do their successes, and learn to avoid their mistakes. You can better yourself immensely by looking for lessons in others’ actions, accomplishments, and failures. Once you get out into the real world (which your four-year undergraduate program decidedly is not), the punishment for making mistakes and, more importantly, failing to learn from them, grows exponentially.
University is about finding meaning
Theologian Frederick Buechner stated that your vocation lies “where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Spend your university experience finding that intersection, and nothing you do will have been a waste of time. University, in that sense, is about following leads. Don’t pursue pleasure, but instead pursue anything that makes you feel like you are doing something important with your time, and for which you feel there is a market demand.
It is hard to say anything about the meaning of life without sounding painfully quaint, but many of history’s most incredible minds, from
Aristotle to Kant
, have contended that a life well-lived is a life with personal meaning. If you begin your university experience on one track, only to realize a year later that your interests and what brings personal meaning to your life are taking you down a completely different one, don’t be afraid to follow it. If you start off thinking you’re going to major in English literature, but figure out after two years that what you really are interested in is wildlife conservation and web design, start planning the rest of your education around marrying these two disciplines and brainstorming ways to make it part of your future.
Many students, depressingly, attend university under false pretenses. They are convinced that it’s an easy ticket to a middle-class lifestyle; they are convinced it will make their family proud of them; they are convinced they owe it to parents who have worked hard to provide it for them. While there may be a sense of duty or socioeconomic ambition involved in your decision to attend university, it should, by no means, be the only reason you are there. At the end of the day, what you get out of your education is based on individual effort. If your education is a four-year party, then that’s what it will be. If it’s an excuse to postpone finding meaning, then it can be that too. If you are struggling to find out how to make the most of your university experience,
get in touch with Homework Help Global
and lets us help free up some time by assigning one of our professional academic essay writers to your coursework.
(2013). “Why Gaining Work Experience is More Important Than Your Education.” Huffington Post. Retrieved from: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/brazen-life/why-gaining-work-experien_b_3750261.html
Beres, D. (2018). “Four Ways to Find Meaning in Life.” Big Think. Retrieved from:
Fortino, A. (2018). “The Purpose of Higher Education: To Create Prepared Minds.” The Evolllution. Retrieved from: https://evolllution.com/uncategorized/the-purpose-of-higher-education-to-create-prepared-minds/