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Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Commentary: College: 4 years to question authority — not to worship it | Orlando Sentinel - Opinion

Photo: Frederick Gregory, Ph.D.
"Why should parents put out thousands of dollars to put children through college? Won’t they be forced to learn things that will be of no use to them in their real lives? Why accumulate a mountain of debt that will hang over them during the formative years of their lives?" argues emeritus professor of the history of science at the University of Florida.

Mortarboard with a message for parents.
Photo: Kris Connor / Getty Images

If a parent’s expectation is that children merely need to get jobs that permits them to move out of the house on their own, then children do not necessarily need to go to college. College is certainly not for everyone. If a high-school graduate envisions learning a trade, possibly in order to build and own a business someday, there is certainly nothing wrong with that.

For those young people who are not gifted with their hands and who are curious about the life of the mind, a college degree is well worth it. For most people, there is no comparable opportunity to widen one’s intellectual horizons during one’s life than the four years between 17 and 21, when, it is said, young people change their outlooks more than they do during any other four-year period. It is, to be sure, a luxury. And, let’s face it, a college degree does give one a good shot at getting a job.

College is a time to learn how to expand one’s world, to discover things about which one had no idea whatsoever, to realize how limited our individual experience of the world truly is. Americans who go to France and eat only at McDonald’s are unimpressed with French cuisine because, they conclude, it is just like ours. But one has to inhabit other worlds to immerse oneself in ideas different from one’s own in order to expose biases about which we have no awareness. Students, says mathematician, biologist, and science historian Jacob Bronowski, bring a certain ragamuffin irreverence to their studies. Theirs is to question authority, not to worship it.

The path to self understanding passes through history, literature, the arts, philosophy, social studies and science. For those who have the privilege of attending college, the opportunity to expand horizons is unlimited.
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Photo: Michael Joe Murphy
Commentary: Is college worth it? by Michael Joe Murphy, Digital Conversation Starter.
"As students and parents tour colleges and universities or attend orientations this summer, it’s worth asking: Is college worth it?" 

  Source: Orlando Sentinel