On the American College Student
Have you ever stopped to think about the value of your education? Most of us are in college not because of a burning passion for a subject or to seek some intellectual pursuit, but merely because we want to make more money. Making more money is and should be your motivation for attending college. Conventional wisdom says, “If you go to college, you’ll make more money.” Conventional wisdom is not always right. Going to college might be the worst decision of your life.
While I appreciate the candor of this young man, it also makes me retch a bit.
Now don’t get me wrong – I agree with some elements of what he’s saying. College, at least the 4-year version we traditionally think about, is a bad decision for some. The student who does not enjoy learning or who has always struggled with it, who does not seek to stretch themselves, who does not in any way seek to improve themselves other than to make money is probably better off going to trade school and becoming an electrician. Of course, I’d put Mr. Wilson in that same category, but his aspirations seem to include an Economics Ph.D. I suppose that’s just for the money, too.
The question of interest to me is one of selection. Would I rather hire Derek Wilson, the finance/economics double-major that does everything for the money or Sally Sue, the sociology major who just does what she loves and hopes it will all work out after graduation?
And frankly, I don’t have an answer.
This kind of behavior sounds like somewhere between achievement striving and deliberateness, both facets of conscientiousness, a personality trait that predicts job performance across jobs. While there might be a bit of a Machiavelli in his description of college motivation, I’m not sure that it would be detrimental in the average American workplace. He sounds a bit like the ideal salesman – goal in mind, he will do whatever it takes, no matter the cost (even if it means suffering through classes in which he has no “burning passion”).
And whose fault is that? Is it the educator who doesn’t instill enough passion into her teaching? Is it the parents who just “went through the motions” themselves and never gave a reason for poor Derek to care about school? Or is the natural product of a workplace where ruthlessness and competitiveness are too often rewarded? Where is the problem? Is there a problem?
And if there isn’t, why are the comments on his article so filled with vitriol?
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