I came here to learn

Tom Barrett

Why do you go to college?

Most students would probably respond to this question with a range of answers, such as the typical, “I want to get a good job,” the ambitious, “I need to for law/medical school;” and even the classic, “My parents forced me to.” Very few, if any, would say, “I want to learn.” But wasn’t the original intention of the university to be a place for intellectual growth? However, somewhere in the pages of recent history, this academic appeal has diminished as the demand for workers with college degrees has increased. What was once considered a rare opportunity has now become a hassling expectation that students must meet in order to stand a chance in the world. As a result, attending school is seen as more of a chore than a unique chance to grow.

Once upon a time, going to college was viewed as a privilege. Most people were not expected to go, and the ones who did went to class looking for something other than just a GPA boost. The classroom was an engaging environment. Students were shown new concepts, introduced to the best classical and contemporary thinkers and exposed to things unique to the college experience. Ideas were explored, and beliefs were challenged. College not only provided a great social life; it opened gateways to completely new ways of seeing the world.

Somewhere in the last quarter of the 20th century, however, the face of college changed from an academic institution to a four-year investment bank. It used to be the case that people who did not want to learn simply did not go to school; they joined the workforce. Now, a college degree has become necessary in order to land a decent job. To many students, this extra four-plus years of classes has become an obligatory evil. The luster of the classroom has been seriously dulled as students begrudgingly drag themselves to classes they claim they are forced to take. Claims like “I’m never going to use this after I graduate” have become ubiquitous across all campuses. Instead of taking classes that sound interesting or novel, they sign up for classes that will be easy As or will look good on their transcripts. Essentially, college has become one big resumé builder.

It is a shame that the classroom has lost much of its appeal. Though students may be required to take certain courses that do not particularly interest them, they should realize that such exposure is an opportunity that the majority of people in the world can not afford. It is true that attending college has become a necessity, but that does not mean its academic aspects have to be completely unenjoyable. Going to school is still a tremendous privilege and should always be treated as such.


Tom Barrett is a sophomore philosophy major from Colonia, N.J. He can be reached at [email protected].