College is weird.
You are given way more reading than you would ever be able to complete, while also devoting time to work, family, sports, clubs, and (of course) socializing (among other things). Classes focus a great deal of time on discussions about topics that don’t seem relevant to your future career (and you likely have no idea what your future career will even be). You spend hours learning things like ‘political convention procedures in the 1800s,’ which are not likely to ever be relevant in what I like to call “real life.” Seemingly off-the-wall classes like The Anthropology of Magic, Witchcraft, and Religion and Maple Syrup: The Real Thing are offered (no, really).
The point of college, as I see it, is to learn how to learn...to foster in yourself a love of learning and a thirst for knowledge that will stick with you for the rest of your life.
In short, to borrow a phrase from author Neal Stepheson, you spend time “geeking out.” According to his article Turn On, Tune In, Veg Out, “to geek out on something means to immerse yourself in its details to an extent that is distinctly abnormal - and to have a good time doing it.”
To me, this phrase perfectly sums up the importance of liberal arts classes, even ones about maple syrup. Students are brought together in a setting conducive to collaborative “geeking out” (the classroom) and proceed to “geek out” together on any variety of topics with the guidance of an expert. They learn to love “geeking out,” and they (hopefully) learn what they would like to spend more time “geeking out” about in the future.
And isn’t that what we are all looking for in our careers?
To find something on which we can become unique experts, something that captures and fascinates us “to an extent that it is distinctly abnormal” and most importantly, that we “have a good time doing it?” I don’t think I am alone in hoping to find a job that I love and that challenges me every day, rather than a job that is high paying or high profile.
To that end, the point of college isn’t to socialize, or learn about Russian Literature, or to list bachelor’s degree on your resume (though those are all bonuses). The point of college, as I see it, is to learn how to learn...to foster in yourself a love of learning and a thirst for knowledge that will stick with you for the rest of your life.
This thirst for learning will push you to be engaged and excited about new opportunities that may present themselves to you along the way. It will drive you to excel in your future career as you constantly seek out new knowledge, new skills, and new experiences. In my experience, this drive is indeed something that companies value in their employees.
As a previous president of Wesleyan University once said, “If you look back at your years at Wesleyan and say those were the best four years of your life, we failed you.” This quote has stuck with me over the years and I think that the comment really gets at the heart of what a college education is all about. Having finally entered into the “real world,” I definitely hope that my four years at college were not the best of my life, though they were pretty awesome. Instead, I hope that the love of learning and thirst for knowledge that I gained from my time at Wesleyan has positioned me in such a way that I can develop a fulfilling and challenging career that will allow me to have many great years over the course of my life.
Media credits: fallontonight.tumblr.com