Why College?: Higher Education & the Pursuit of More

*Posted by Joe Wooddell

As a new school year begins a question worth asking is, “Why college?” Every year, many students sense that God is guiding them toward higher education. However, what’s the purpose? What’s the point of going?

My brief answer is this: to accumulate new information, to learn, to grow, and to be challenged, sharpened, and grounded in that which is true, good, and beautiful.

The answer is decidedly not simply to “get a job with a good salary.” As a Christian college professor I want people to graduate and go on either to graduate school or into vocational ministry or a non-ministry vocational setting, and I do want them ultimately to earn a good living. In fact, my hope and prayer is that many of them do extremely well financially.

However, I hope their aim is not first and foremost to “get a high paying job.” Rather, I hope they do the things I just mentioned: accumulate new information, learn, grow, and become grounded in that which is true, good, and beautiful. In other words, I hope their world-and-life-views becomes clearer, stronger, truer, and – as believers – I hope those views become more “Christian.” In other words, I hope their collegiate goals end up serving a higher purpose than big money.

So to those believers who are starting college for the first time this semester, to those who are continuing, and to those planning to attend college in the future, please consider this: Go to college with the goal of accumulating new information (and graduating!) and work hard at directing your life toward a vocation that will earn you a good living (and help others earn a good living), but keep foremost in your mind the notion that college as a whole is about overall growth and development for the better.

Do this, work hard and smart, and you’ll become a better person and probably accomplish the other things like landing a good job. Neglect this, and while you might acquire a high-paying job someday, you likely will not become a more virtuous person. And without virtue you will never be truly happy.

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