What is College For?

I am hosting my second Tweetup of the semester on November 19th. It is one of the ways I try to connect with students, understand their aspirations and get feedback on the UCF experience. You can sign up by clicking (here). This Tweetup will focus on building a unique culture for the College: one that will help develop a distinctive set of qualities on our graduates that advantage Knights in their careers and life.

But before you attend the Tweetup, I’m asking that you watch this video from Seth Godin: Seth is talking about primary and secondary education and how it was designed to ensure that we had a sufficient number of workers for our industrial society. I like this video for a variety of reasons, but the most relevant point for the Tweetup is that it shows how a culture was purposefully created that fostered certain qualities in people, qualities the economy of the time demanded and valued (e.g., respect, conformity).

Seth goes on to note that we are no longer an industrial society. That today, the American economy has a different set of drivers. So, he rightly asks in today’s world: “What is school for?” It is an excellent question. I doubt he means that we should stop teaching math or science or English. I also doubt that he thinks we should stop trying to create well-disciplined minds capable of solving complex problems. What he is really asking is: what set of characteristics should school foster in today’s students? Once we understand that, we can create physical spaces, design learning experiences, develop rituals, and extol role models that will help create a culture that supports our goals.

In searching for a unique culture for our College, I am essentially asking “What is College for?” Like Seth, I’m not asking whether or not we should teach students about net present value or the four Ps of marketing. I am asking: what qualities do we want to instill in our students? Which ones are most important to their success in life and which of these qualities do we choose to emphasize in building a distinctive brand for the College?

Let’s talk.

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2 thoughts on “What is College For?

  1. I paid for college by working summers as a painter on offshore oil rigs. One day when we were complaining and saying we wouldn’t be working like this forever a Lease Operator told us the key to success was summed up in 10 simple words, “Show up every day on time and bust your butt.” I didn’t do that in school and wasn’t much of a student. But now I use that advice every day. What I didn’t realize then was this experienced individual who had learned things the hard way was sharing the qualities he felt were important for success. Hmmm…maybe school is for making you smart enough to know (and follow) good advice when you get it!

  2. This one is really a lot of reason and relevant point,for me college is very important thing that many student should consider because it is one of the best way to ask what do you want in life.Many of student that turn to college have different choices in Finland many of people ask what they want to learn in college and why?most of their answer is to have business and most of the choice course is MBA which is pretty good choice.

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