Monday, September 3, 2012

"Choosing the right college is over-rated"

Walter Russell Mead offers seven observations with advice for those about to begin higher education. They all make sense to me. Three of his points:
3. You are going to have to work much, much harder than you probably expect.

I’m sorry to bring you bad news, but your generation faces the toughest competition any American generation has ever known.

Your competition isn’t sitting in the next library carrel. Your competition is in China and India – and your competition isn’t hanging out at frat parties or sitting around watching sitcoms with dorm-mates. It isn’t getting stoned and it isn’t putting its energy into chasing the opposite (or apposite) sex. Your competition isn’t taking lots of courses on gender studies; it isn’t majoring in ethnic studies, or (unless it is planning to go into movie making) the history of film.

Your competition is working hard, damned hard, and is deadly serious about learning. There’s nothing written in the stars that guarantees Americans a higher standard of living than other people. Those of you who spend your college years goofing off in the traditional American way are going to pay a much higher price for this than you think.

4. Choosing the right courses is more important than choosing the right college.

Choosing the right college is over-rated. ....

Choosing the right courses, on the other hand, is under-rated. In the old days you could take a lot of silly courses and guts and get away with it. But your generation is going to have to scramble and you need every edge you can get.

Your generation can’t afford to throw these four years away; choose your courses carefully and seriously. Everybody has different needs; aspiring movie makers and aspiring physicists aren’t going to take all that many classes together, but there are some basic concepts that make sense.

5. Get a traditional liberal education; it is the only thing that will do you any good.

Following this advice will be hard; a liberal education is no easy thing to get, and not everybody wants you to have one. However, in times of rapid change, it is paradoxically more useful to immerse yourself in the basics and the classics than to try to keep up with the latest developments and hottest trends. You can be almost 100% sure that the hot theories making waves in academia today will be forgotten or superseded in twenty years — but fifty years from now people will still be reading and thinking about the classic texts that have shaped our world. Use your college years to ground yourself in the basic great books and key ideas and values that will last. .... [more]
"All that is not eternal, is eternally out of date." C.S. Lewis

Back to School | Via Meadia

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