Here you are! You spent 12 years of your life exhausting seven hours a day in a building, being taught to spit information onto examinations whose results would get you to college. Your parents shelled out thousands of dollars, likely accruing substantial debt, and you may be working to supplement the payments. You uprooted your home and settled down in a completely new environment with a massive community that is probably very different from that of your hometown. Going through all that, I’d hope there’d be a good reason!
College, in theory, is supposed to be a place of self-discovery and personal enlightenment. However, when most people are asked why they’re here – more specifically, what they’re studying – the answer usually boils down to economics. I’m here to get ‘x’ degree so I can get ‘y’ job and ‘z’ salary.
In an institution which claims itself as a bastion of intellectual expansion, many students are driving themselves down a narrow path of specialized training, mostly out of fear: fear that they will not get a job of a certain status, or a job at all; a fear of falling down the social strata; a fear of not being deemed important by our society.
This fear is beaten into us throughout our young lives. The school system is supposed to funnel us up the educational hierarchy until we achieve our degree. At this point, we are assigned value as an economic utility and ready to work our adult lives away.
Failing to reach this stage, or failing to pick a field of study which is not valued by employers, will reflect badly on us. We will lose our value if we cannot provide the work asked of us by our superiors. We will be stuck in a dead-end job, living paycheck to paycheck, while our dreams and aspirations stay just that.
In times like these, it’s hard not to worry about what we’ll do once we’re in the “real world,” without the direct support of our parents or the security of a strictly educational environment. The economy is, to put it shortly, complete shit. However, this concern should only be part of the consideration of how you spend your time here. You could switch your major to something pre-law and quadruple your income later on.
However, unless you can really enjoy sifting through wordy texts of corporate tax policy, or interpreting the archaic phrasing of the Constitution, you will find only misery, spending the majority of your life trudging through your daily toil, yearning for the free time you have as you leave the office.
With no energy or drive to do the things you really want to do after your long work day, you’ll sit down on your expensive couch and watch the hours waste away on TV until you return to work once more.
What you do with your education here at college will determine how you spend a large portion of your waking hours. It is imperative, for the sake of the enjoyment of your whole life, that you not funnel yourself down the path of Doctor, or Lawyer, or Accountant, or anything. The title of your employment should not be the goal you strive towards. Instead, use this opportunity, an opportunity denied to so many people, to drink in the massive amount of information, perspective, and diversity of ideas that you may find here. As per the title of J. California Cooper’s book, “Life is Short, But Wide.“ We have such a short time on Earth, but what we can do with that time is hardly scarce. I am not here solely to study mathematics.
Here, I have been introduced to and immersed in philosophy, music, economics, history, sociology, literature, and samplings of so many other topics which will provide me with the desire to learn until the day I die. To broaden the horizons of your education, to make it more than just a period of training for providing labor to the capitalists, to make it truly a form of consumption, of personal development, is to break free from the limitations which have driven many people to unfulfilling lives.
Becoming a better person should be your first and most important goal during your time at West Chester University. This central goal will not only improve your career prospects, but your interactions with your peers, your impact on the community and society at large and how your mind will process any given situation. You are more than your job, your degree or your material possessions. The most real and tangible part of you is your own Self, and strengthening your Self will prepare you for a more enjoyable life than any bourgeois luxury could.
Alexander Habbart is a second-year student majoring in economics, math, and finance. He can be reached at AH855514@wcupa.edu.