Zoo Station

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On college and real life

Posted by Chance on February 16, 2010

In college I learned many important things, some in the classroom, some outside.  I learned how to do my job, how to think more critically, and how to evaluate my own belief system in the face of many contradictory viewpoints.

On the whole, however, I don’t know if college really made me a better person.  College can be a remarkable time of self-absorption, even for those who study hard instead of having a whole lot of fun.  When I was in college, my biggest problems were getting projects done and getting ready for tests.

Fast forward 6 years after graduation as a husband and father of 2.  At the end of last year I was with my 2.5 year old son in the ER, with doctors figuring out what is going on with him as he kept vomiting.  Now, that sounds worse than it really was.  He had to have surgery, but he’s okay now, and he was a lot better off than probably 90% of the other people in the ER.  Nevertheless, it gave me some perspective.  Studying for a stupid exam is not a real problem, it may seem so at the time, and I’m not making light of people working hard through school, I was there once.  But sitting bedside next to a loved one in the hospital, that is a real problem.

Where does college come in exactly?  I guess I keep hearing about how college is supposed to make someone a better person.  The mission of a university now extends beyond teaching someone a trade and refining critical thinking skills; people have this zany idea that college is the avenue to how a person becomes whole.  I see this mostly in the idea of diversity appreciation classes.  Are their racists afoot on campus?  Make people take a diversity appreciation class, that will solve the problem!  College helped me in many ways as mentioned previously (I also met my wife there).  But I went into college as a self-absorbed kid, and I left as a self-absorbed kid who could solve differential equations.  My maturation has come about primarily through living in the real world, not so much through college, and any real change in my life has happened through the spiritual dimension (for this reason I think a Christian college can be an exception to the rule, but it is definitely not guaranteed).

Now, this is just true for me.  Some people get involved in campus activities and do good things for the community and all that.  I wasn’t one of those people.  I was concerned about getting good grades and paying the rent.  As I grow, my concerns move beyond myself to my family.  In my Christian walk I hope to become more concerned about people beyond my family, people with real problems.

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