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The Struggle Between Being And Knowing

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The reasons we undertake higher education can seem obvious on the surface but I believe that there is much more to consider than initially meets the eye. What are we really seeking? Before we cut the check and dedicate the hours we should ask ourselves what our final objective might be. Is it simply the required degree which allows us a label next to our name, or is it the opportunity to be introduced to a world so large and complex that we won't ever again be content to live passively.
Unfortunately for some of the students, the reasons have never been too clear. These reasons were not clear to me as a freshman and still not too clear to me as a candidate for graduation. Many students are still left wondering if that is all there is. The society we live in demands the degree. We go to meet that demand. That is the easy part. We can easily learn what we are told to learn and spit out facts and information that is pumped into us. So we emerge with the treasured slip of paper but what else? Yes, we hopefully have acquired the skills to do the job we are seeking, but have we acquired the intellectual capacity for continued learning? Was our curiosity tapped? Or worst of all satisfied? Both the articles 'I Go to College' by Lincoln Steffens and the film Dead Poets Society present a unique struggle between the traditional methodologies and the desire for something more. It is time to analyze the university experience with regards to what is and what should be. Our expectations and our realities.
The reality of the university in Steffens day is not too different from what it is today, over a hundred years later. It still serves the same purpose and we have come to accept it for what it is. We go there for knowledge, hopefully focused and with direction. A goal of graduation illuminates our path. The fact is, we have little choice but to resign ourselves to the required r'gime. We need that degree to get that job to earn that living. It is as simple as that. Steffens is right; we do learn things we are not most interested in. But unlike him, we don't have the luxury of simply studying what we like because what we like won't always get us the job we need.
The high demands in today's job market and the intense level of competition require at minimum a baccalaureate degree or higher in any given field. The degree is the building block for all other qualifications such as experience, training, skills, etc. The degree is the infrastructure of any resume. It will open the door to the interviews.
In addition to the requirement of the degree in the job market, it can also be required at home. Many students are in college largely because it is what is expected from their parents. It was never really an option, just a given. If the parents had a college education they usually expect the same or better for their children. If the parents did not have the opportunity to go to college it is usually very important to them that their children receive that chance. Something was very clear in Dead Poet's Society. The parents as well as the most of the educators expected their student to follow in the foot steeps of, ...

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