Can Students Focus on Self-Development?

July 1st, 2011 at 3:52 pm | 2 Comments |

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This is the third part in a FrumForum series on the value of college written by FrumForum’s summer interns.

I spent my first year of college with no unique desires to learn – but simply with the goal of getting a degree and eventually a job. I was a part of the many who flock to college and routinely proceed through the requirements because it is expected – and because a degree was thought to be a first-class ticket in the “real world”. But as I approach my senior year, I’ve come to realize how little a degree will do for me.

This formerly golden document has decreased in value as it became more common. A bachelor’s degree seems to have the same value that a high school degree had 100 years ago – but it costs $200,000 more.

The past few years led me to a realization: college is not about grades or degrees – it’s about self-development. Unfortunately, few people strive towards that anymore.

Those with a will and passion to embrace their textbooks and study what they are given will receive a meaningful degree, while those who spend their undergraduate years at frat parties will leave four years later with empty pockets and a mountain of debt.

My philosophy professor advised his students to use college as a rare opportunity to “think about the great questions of life” – using resources that will only be available during that short four-year period.

I eventually acquired the desire to learn as much as possible – and actually enjoy soaking up every bit of information that comes my way. At first, I thought it would increase my value after graduation – but now, I’ve come to enjoy it, and would often much rather spend my time reading an interesting book than mindlessly attending a social event. Perhaps my degree will hold more weight when I walk off that stage next May.

College rankings don’t matter. People are given information, and whether they choose to receive it is a choice defined by character. It’s ones character that will pave the path of the future – not one’s degree.

What a degree will do is open doors to opportunities – which someone who wasted their four years will not be able to step through.

An Ivy League school may brand students with a name that will give them more chances – but it won’t make its students any more skilled.

So is college worth spending $200,000 on? Yes – but only for those who embrace the tools they are given. It can be an investment – but only for those who know how to invest.

Recent Posts by Nicole Glass

2 Comments so far ↓

  • HeeHee23

    Self-development or the idea of searching for answers to questions about oneself and the world that don’t produce a readily recognizable monetary benefit is one that is completely ignored not just by college students but in the education system as a whole going on down to elementary school. I won’t recount my own personal history but I’ve concluded that the education system is filled with practices and ideas that are most readily centered around getting the 68 percent in the middle of the bell curve to imbibe work habits and generalized ideas that at a minimum will allow them to competently carry out a career in middle management somewhere.

    While many of these ideas and habits are useful for the individual in the marketplace, noticeably absent from educational curriculums and the mind of the student are a focus on learning for learning’s sake or any questions and considerations that don’t have the profit-motive at the heart of them. Having financial security may make external life more pleasant for an individual but it does little to nothing to help them address their internal lives. Helping students from a younger age to think about and appreciate deeper questions regarding themselves and the world they live in isn’t just a matter of trying to live up to some classical standard of education Ultimately I believe it will make them even more equipped to carry out their jobs and pursue their career goals with greater perspective, confidence, and success. Unless they’re like me and their thirst for knowledge leads them to pursuing a degree in English.

  • PracticalGirl

    This entire series by the young authors at the FF was an exercise in myopia, which would have been fine had the obvious editorial position of the day been something other than to refute the in-the-news position that “college isn’t worth it”.

    Really, kids- if you’re going to argue a larger point, you might want to actually look at the data upon which the other positions are built. You certainly have no obligation to come to a personal conclusion other than you have, but each and every one of you fail to address any of the larger points of fact that contribute to the rising attitude that “college isn’t worth it”. In order to have done that, you would have to look beyond your extremely limited, self-centered POV to the larger picture. All these articles “prove” is your total inability to do that, and thus, why you’re simply not ready to comment in an adult forum.

    No, Nicole, a college degree-for the vast majority of college students in the US- does not cost 200 grand as you all seem to believe. And no, not every college student exists in an atmosphere where they and all their buddies are of the motivated type, as the POV from ALL of your articles seems to believe. This , more than anything, was where you all lost me. If Johne Boehner or the President of the United States or even a commentary writer decided to “debunk” the dismal national unemployment picture by saying “Hey, I’m surrounded by people who not only have jobs but are doing EXACTLY what they’ve wanted to all their lives. And since it’s good for me, it must be working for all the rest”, wouldn’t you find it hollow?

    For true, insightful commentary on the state of the effectiveness of the college system as a whole, you’d have to climb down from your own ivory tower and examine the MAJORITY experience. Social commentary, even opinion-oriented- must come from strong understanding of fact in order to ring true. Perhaps if you had gotten outside of yourselves, you’d understand that your successes are in the minority, and from there, perhaps you could have asked some pertinent questions of a system that has a 30% success rate and yet still manages to capture a huge majority of age-appropriate consumers. From there, maybe you could have provided some decent analysis. Shoot, I would have been happy for you to have looked at the larger picture and simply have said “Wow. I can’t even begin to identify with those who pay for an education but don’t take advantage of it”, and asked some questions of those who are failing in this system. At least it would have been some proof that you understand that the picture in this issue extends beyond Yale or Georgetown. Your brethren at Harvard have done exactly this, except well, they had actual scientific studies which led to actual, debatable suggestions and positions. Haven’t you even bothered to look at their findings?

    I read these articles expecting to hear from an elite force, but hoping to read some sort of understanding of the larger issues. Not one of you did so. Your editors failed you as badly as you failed the readers, by refusing to expect you to research the facts that are driving the larger position and to possibly-just possibly- include your observations of the larger whole in addition to your personal feelings.