What IS a “College Education?”

I am NOT saying that a college major represents a “college education.”

It definitely does NOT.

Personally, I believe that your major in college represents at most about 25% of your “college education.”

In high school, you learned a lot of “whats” – primarily because those are the sorts of things that are found in standardized tests for which you need to gain a good score in order to simply enter college.

In college, you learn a lot more “whats” – particularly in your major field, but, more important, you are offered the opportunity to learn a lot of “whys.”

The valuable “whats” and “whys” that you learn are those things that are enduring – that is, the laws of physics, mathematics, rhetoric, foreign languages, and the like. The less valuable “whats” and “whys” are those things that are time sensitive – that is, they are relevant for a short time and not over the long run.

So my first piece of advice about getting a good college education (the 25% of it) is to learn the “whats” and the “whys” that endure over time – that are independent of the present. (An exception would obviously be if one or more of the laws of physics or mathematics happened to change . . . . )

The second piece of advice (for the remaining 75%) is to concentrate on learning the “critical skills.”

No kidding!

Going to college represents the first time you have in your life to assimilate into a new community – to make new friends, to establish yourself, and, in a sense, to “find” yourself.

It represents a relatively harmless environment in which you can practice the “critical skills?”

  • to learn how to communicate effectively in class,
  • to work on projects with other students taking ideas to reality,
  • to work on your information gathering skills,
  • to practice your analytical skills,
  • to participate as a member of a team either in athletics, drama, clubs, social venues (sororities/fraternities),
  • to manage your time,
  • to see and test new technologies.

So take advantage of those opportunities. They are the kinds of things that you will most remember and will serve you well as you move forward into the first out-of-college environment after you graduate.

You will always have the opportunity for continued learning in such things as new technologies and the like, but you will be far ahead of the game if you hone your “critical skills” and do not have to do remedial learning in those areas when you are “live and on the job.”

To me – THAT’s a “College Education.”



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