Learning for the Sake of Learning
Very few people know what they want to major in, let alone what they want their career to be, when they start college. In your first few semesters you’ll likely have the opportunity to take a bunch of introductory classes and you’ll enjoy some of them more than others. During this time you might also feel pressure to declare a major or find your academic passion while simultaneously maintaining good grades. While you might feel uncertain about what path to take it may also seem like everyone else around you has it all figured out. It’s normal to feel this way, and in reality many students are unsure about what they want to spend their time learning or majoring in.
All of this uncertainty is actually okay. Young people go to college to set themselves up for future success but the college experience is also an opportunity to learn things about yourself and the world around you along the way. Learning what you’re good at, what you enjoy, where your skills are lacking and what you dislike, underlies much of your educational journey. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses is a skill that will help you throughout life.
And remember that a lot of college education is about learning to think, analyze and integrate new information and ideas. In fact, if you ask many adults who attended liberal arts colleges what about their college experience had most influence on them (aside from maybe the friends they made) they will likely tell you it was learning to think and write well. So learning to learn is a really important component of the experience no matter what career you ultimately pursue.
What about your grades? How are you supposed to try out different courses that you aren’t well-versed in and feel confident that you can maintain good grades? Well, unless you know you want to go into a cut throat career that requires impeccable grades, your grades ultimately don’t matter as much as it might seem like they do when you are in the middle of it. The more you learn for the sake of learning, rather than doing it for the credits or the grades, the more you will probably get out of the experience Studying only to get a grade might actually undermine the process of real learning and get in the way of getting the most knowledge and enjoyment out of your courses.
After college, you’ll probably forget many of the details of the course content you took or the grades you received. But learning to think and learning to learn while on the path to getting the degree will be much more impactful and important in your life.