What is college optimized for?I am a believer in an educational system. I am not one of those people who try and tell anyone to drop out of school. (I am a firm believer…
I am a believer in an educational system. I am not one of those people who try and tell anyone to drop out of school. (I am a firm believer that anyone who is trying to sell you to drop out of school generally has other selfish motives or just enjoys talking. I think that everyone should think/decide for themselves).
I am lucky enough to attend college. I go to Washington University in St. Louis right now. I study Finance and Computer Science. I am a Junior here.
My time here has been interesting, and unique.
Lately I have been thinking about what is college optimized for? And the answer, I am coming to realize, is likely different from the student’s goals.
Students come to college for many different reasons. Generally though, they are looking for a few things: learning (about themselves, the world, etc.), figuring out what they want to do, having fun, making friends, the list goes on.
I do not, however, believe that college, in its current state is optimized whatsoever for “figuring out what you want to do in life.”
The current model is that you major in what you think you may be interested in. Liberal arts school allow you to expose yourself to more classes across different fields — but even then, you somewhat pigeonhole yourself by majoring in a specific field.
Like I said, I study Finance and Computer Science. What that really means is that I have taken 2 Finance classes (thus far) and like 7 Computer Science classes.
Yes, I have learned a lot. I have learned hard skills and soft skills. I have learned how to fail and recover.
But we all know that classes are not the best representation of the professional world.
So we are encouraged to do “internships” to get a better picture of what we may want to do.
The problem is that most of us wait for our first job until Sophomore or even Junior summer. Who wants to grow up?!?
By then, we only have a few years left until we graduate. We have already decided our majors. We already have decided our friend groups…
Even the courses that you take early on that are “designed” to help you learn about different fields fall short because there is nothing like the real world.
At the end of the day, you decide what you want to study. You decide what you want to do.
Colleges can give us all the resources in the world — but we still have to make the decision for ourselves and live with the consequences.
I think college could do a better job of helping us start to ask questions and test our assumptions more quickly. Whether that is building more projects, talking to more people, and facing more real world challenges.
If the model is intended to help us figure out what we want to do (or perhaps how we can add value to society) — then it is fundamentally broken.
If the model is designed to help us have as much fun as possible — then I’d also say the model is currently broken.
It is easy to complain, yes, but much harder to fix on a general scale.
But right now, my experience is really somewhere in between. And I find that “stuck in between” is a recipe for mediocre outputs. If we want to produce outliers…we have to think differently.
Originally published at gonen.blog.
Exported from Medium on February 17, 2018.