At this point in my life, I don’t consciously think about my college education anymore. It’s been 5+ years since I’ve graduated and day-to-day, there are just too many other things to think about.
On the off chance someone asks me about it, I default to my standard answer:
“The only thing I learned in college was how to learn on my own.”
After hearing this, you may assume that I didn’t have a particularly positive college experience. This wasn’t the case.
I attended a public liberal arts school where I was given the chance to meet others from different backgrounds, join extracurricular groups that interested me, and make life-long friends.
Notice how none of that was related to education.
I just happened to choose a major (visual communications) that was not particularly strong at this specific school. The department was understaffed, the faculty was not made up of practicing experts in the industry, and the coursework was not “real world” applicable.
So, what do you do when you find yourself in this position? You take matters into your own hands.
What I wasn’t receiving in class, I would go home and find on my own using Google search and countless YouTube video tutorials. This sort of self-generated learning may appear easier with hard skills in design, but it honestly can translate into any educational topic.
In my experience, college can give you necessary building blocks when creating the life you want as an adult, but it can’t give you everything.
A college education can give you:
- A network of peers and professors to learn from (both during and after college)
- A convenient framework or starting point to learn (i.e. a curriculum)
- The chance to grow socially, which one of the most important benefits, in my opinion
- Freedom to make your own decisions day-to-day
Notice how this list doesn’t include anything about absolute success or a fulfilling career. These things can’t be taught or regurgitated by a professor.
They can’t even be found using the countless frameworks online that promise to put you on a path of self discovery. These may also help provide a starting point, but they will not be the ultimate answer.
The only thing that will guarantee you success is for you to define what your own success looks like. And you want to know the quickest way to accomplish this? Interact with people from different backgrounds who have different perspectives than you.
When your values, beliefs, and opinions are challenged, you become uncomfortable. This discomfort, or friction, will lead you to ask questions about yourself and what you believe.
Honestly. THIS is when you learn, grow, and mature into the person you will be for the rest of your life. This is what education is meant to do, although it is currently unsuccessful.
The beautiful thing about this is that it isn’t restricted only to college. Every day is a chance to reach out to others who know more than you and are on a path that you may want to go down. You have countless opportunities to meet others from different backgrounds who will challenge your way of thinking.
In other words, every day is a chance to take yourself to school.