For the last several years I have hosted pizza lunches with students. The students are typically winners of drawings at events like “Welcome to the Majors.” The reason I do this is that I want to understand students’ aspirations, expectations and experiences. It helps me get a clear picture of what is going on in the College and how we can create a culture that is going to help our students succeed while at UCF and in their careers.
I start each of these lunches with the same question: “Tell me what surprises you the most at the College?” The most common answers to my question is that the place is very large and that the academic expectations are much greater than they were at the student’s last institution. At a lunch a couple of weeks ago, a student gave me a different answer. Choosing her words carefully and in very respectful tone she said: “Well, I don’t want to use the term push, but the college really encourages you to engage and get involved in things.” I laughed and said: “Oh no, you’re right, we push.”
Why do we push? The answer lies in the video we use during “Welcome to the Majors” where I say: “The purpose of education isn’t knowledge, it’s action.” That’s a quote from Herbert Spencer, an English philosopher. His point is that knowledge isn’t very useful if you don’t do anything with it. This is especially true in business. You are going to get paid for what you do. What you do is influenced by what you know. But, if you are too afraid to act on what you know, you fail. So we push. We want you to get experience being outside of your comfort zone while you are here, so you won’t be paralyzed by fear and discomfort when you leave. We want you to learn to take risks, experiment with things you haven’t tried before, expand your horizons, get some swagger and know that you can compete with anyone, anywhere. If we do our job well, the day will come when we won’t have to push, you’ll just jump.