William Landsheft The Purpose of a College Education The reason that most people go to college is to make them more marketable to future employers. As we see our economy in dire financial straits we see record number of people entering colleges across the nation, such as Drury for one example. But a college education is about much more the just the foundations for your career. It is the building blocks for the rest of your life and will make you better, different then you are now. It will transform you. Your college education makes a true adult out of you, and brings us out of the ignorance of immaturity.
The best way to describe the idea of a college education is Andrew Mills can opener theory. Most people view education as a can opener, a means to an end. While it is true that a college graduate will obviously be more successful there are still flaws with this point of view. As a can opener is used to open cans to get to the tasty goods in side future students view education as a means to get to the career that they would not be able to obtain without the education, i. e. the can opener. Education can open so many more doors in your life then just a career. Doors that you never knew existed.
In other words instead of education being viewed as a can opener it should be seen more as a Swiss army knife, a tool with a hundred different valuable assets. More than just getting you a job it will make you of a much better quality. It will form you into a person who lives outside of nature’s boundaries and that can accept and even comprehend things that people without a similar education would be completely and unknowingly ignorant to. To receive this education you must be open minded, and prepared to accept ideas that you would have never even considered a year ago.
It will allow you to fully understand the world. It will enrich your life so that you can enjoy and comprehend many more ideas then just your points of view. A broader education allows you not only to enjoy your life but to explore other areas of your life that are beautiful and fulfilling. In the growingly competitive job market employers are not only looking for someone that has the skills gained from a college education. They are also looking for the understanding and awareness that one will gain in college.
Robert Pirsig introduces some very complicated philosophical questions on education in The Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. For one example what have grades done to you? Have they truly let you get the most out of your education or have the tied you down to focusing on the little things? In Pirsigs’ mind they have hindered your education by making you more closed minded. When your only focused on the A and not the actually things to be gleamed from the lesson you lose the broader wisdom to be gained from what you are being taught.
In college there will also be many gains and losses. We see this through the readings of Mark Twain in The Two Views of The River. Just like the steam boat captain who learns the ways of the river, every hidden danger and magical aspect. He gains the knowledge of the river to grant him safe passage but the river also loses some of its majesty to him. This is very similar to college. When we enter this institute of higher learning we are naive, all be it blissfully so. We can still believe in fanciful thing, thing that makes us happy to be oblivious to.
As a hundred others have said, college will open your eyes to the world, if you allow it to. It gives you the opportunity to gain so much while you are here. But of course with the gaining of knowledge there are many losses. As you gain your life essentially, you also gain a wealth of wisdom. Though as you start your new life you lose many things, you lose you naivety. Things that were once wonderful start to become less magical as you learn the truths. Your sense of place and home begins to change as you expand your horizons.
You start to change, not your home town. There are so many things to be explored in the world that you home town becomes too small for you. The beautiful thing to the losses brought on by you education though, is that you can appreciate why you views have changed. You can admire what your education has done for you and how it has changed you. It makes you able to evaluate and understand things on a deeper, more complex level. And you can in fact discover further levels of “wonder”, as Twain would say, though this deeper and more meaningful analysis.
Over all what you walk away from college, if you are open-minded and accepting to the education, is a new you. You have come out of your childhood shell and became a beautiful adult. You have matured and now have a clear understanding of the world. While you did lose things along the way you gained so much more in return. The simple answered is no longer the acceptable answer. The best way to put it would have to be in the wise words of Andrew Mills- “a college education does not prepare you to do something; it prepares you to do anything”.