Lessons learned outside class

Some of the most important experiences of college take place far from the classroom. They are not graded, tested or edited by any professor, and they carry more weight than any exam or paper. They mean more than a 4.0 grade point average or even a bachelor’s degree. These experiences take place in dorm rooms, coffee shops, over-priced apartments, fraternities and sororities. They test, inspire, aggravate and challenge. And while challenges inside the classroom might prepare us for a career, the challenges outside the classroom mold us into the people we will be for the rest of our lives.

Most people agree the primary goal of any typical college student is to graduate with a degree, get a job, make ridiculous amounts of money and possibly even get married. Yet many people do not acknowledge that scholastic learning is not the only, or perhaps even the most important, priority for a college student. Alongside the quest for knowledge is a quest for wisdom and self-discovery.

But reading, writing and ‘rithmetic take precedence over any sort of self-betterment, as far as education is concerned. Therefore, the emphasis on a high GPA and a prestigious degree is to be expected. And because wisdom and self-discovery cannot necessarily be taught, it is up to us to learn them for ourselves.

The messy roommate with the irregular sleep pattern will teach us about compromise. The late-night political debates will teach us how to defend an opinion. The budding friendship will teach us respect and loyalty. The three-month-long relationship will teach us passion, and the embittering breakup will teach us regret. These are the moments when we establish our values and define our integrity. It is how we discover what we stand for, and whom we stand for.

This is not to say wisdom and self-discovery are the only things that matter and education is worthless – not at all. I only encourage people to place the same amount of effort into cultivating who they want to be as what they want to be.

Chad Hamblin is junior. He welcomes comments at [email protected]