Recently I met some amazingly talented, intelligent and ambitious young women and heard them outline their career goals. Several of them told me that they were going onto graduate school immediately after earning their undergraduate degrees.
It wasn’t until several days later as I replayed those conversations in my head that I realized how disappointed I was in some of them. Disappointed not in their achievements or their goals but in the paths they are choosing to achieve those goals.
I am a firm believer in formal education. I think that arena offers you the opportunity to formulate the beliefs that will be your foundation in the world.
I am also a firm believer in testing those beliefs sooner rather than later. You can learn a lot in those first 4 years of college and not just the information presented in the classroom but also self-sufficiency, self-awareness and interacting with others. I believe that it is important to apply all of that learning outside of the classroom.
I heard some of these young women say that they didn’t know what they wanted to do with their lives. I will tell you I still don’t know exactly what I want to do with my life. What I do know is that I learned valuable people skills waiting tables in a seaside resort. I learned communication skills managing a healthcare office in a rural setting. I acquired emotional intelligence techniques managing housekeeping staff in an inner city hospital. I increased my appreciation of different cultures and traditions as I traveled around the country at the bidding of a corporation. And in each of those settings I increased my understanding of who I was and what I could do. Those were invaluable lessons.
I believe a time limit should be imposed prior to beginning graduate school. Maybe four years of experiencing life in the outside world before returning to the cocoon of academia Then an additional four years before adding a doctorate.
I believe that then, and only then, are you truly educated. What do you think?