Wednesday, January 24, 2007

What should every university student know? II

A continuation of yesterday's post...

#5. Travel or die

One of the most educational activities possible is one that the university doesn't actually require: traveling. You learn things overseas about yourself and your world that are just not possible here at home.

Consider a study abroad program--they range from several weeks to many months. Consider a quick, low-fare jaunt to someplace cool. However you do it, get going.

#4. What should be the role of religion?

Stephen Carter, in the book "Culture of Disbelief," argues that public institutions such politics, the law, and academia trivialize religion by pressuring its adherents to keep quiet about their personal views. Essentially, religion is okay as long as you keep it at home--sort of like a slightly-embarrassing hobby.

This raises the question: "What should be the role of religion in public life?" The issue here is not separation of church as state, which should be affirmed for the protection of both, but rather how should people of faith live bring it to public life. I do not offer an answer other than to point out the significance of the question.

#3. Take a year or two off after college
Most college students have been students their whole lives (at least since age 5). As such, they don't have the chance to the lessons that come with living in the "real" world. In addition, recent college graduates usually have relatively few obligations that would keep them at home. As such, taking a year or two off after college is usually a really good idea.

Go live someplace cool. Volunteer for a charitable organization. Travel. Become a ski instructor, a beach bum, a wine taster. This is a time to do things that you'll probably never have another chance to do. Need specific ideas? Go to

#2. Be less docile
An implicit norm for students at large universities is one of quiet conformity--show up to class, sit quietly, take tests, and then leave at the end of the semester. Students would learn much more, in addition to having more fun, if they were a little more aggressive in challenging the ideas and material presented in class. Do you think that something is a load of crap? Then say so! (Though you may have to use a different term, depending on the professor).
At some point you'll need to think for yourself. Now is a good time to start.

#1. Take your time to find a job you love

Do you think that college lasted a long time? That was only 4 or 5 years. Your career will last that many decades! You should therefore find something that you love to do, a job that you'll enjoy going to most every single day.

There is no hurry, either, in finding this job. If you don't figure things out till you're thirty years old (gasp, hard to believe that you'll ever get there), you'll still work for about 40 years till retirement age. Getting this one right is fundamental.

What else should be on this list?

1 comment:

carson said...

Every student would significantly benefit from learning about the founders of the major world religions. My experience is that a very low percentage of all students have actually read 1, not to mention all 4, of the very brief gospel accounts of Jesus' life. That is an embarrassing type of ignorance. Some knowledge of the Koran, especially given the prominence of Muslims (of different types) in today's world, and Confucianism, given the rise of China, seem essential.