The perpetual quest for an education

After three years at the University of Miami, four changes to my major and countless tests, papers and projects, reality is finally beginning to set in.

I am faced with the milestone of college graduation in 11 months, and the only word I can use to describe my emotions is ambivalence.

Senior year of high school is probably one of the most hopeful times in a student’s life. We paint a picture in our heads of what college will be like – the colorful social scene, the liberal classes, the never-ending knowledge – and, for a moment, we can taste success.

Three years later, I realize the picture I painted is different from the life I currently live. I realized that the education necessary for whatever comes after college cannot be found in Cox or Memorial.

With a few exceptions, we usually sit in classrooms staring at the clock, wishing that time would go faster, wishing away the presence that we looked forward to just a few years ago. We can blame it on uninterested professors, boring subject matter, hangovers and exhaustion, but the truth is that most of what we learn in class is useless.

I recently read a speech that was delivered at the University of Chicago and stumbled upon some eye-opening numbers: a one-point increment in college GPA – from 2.8 to 3.8, for example – is worth about an additional 9 percent in income four years after college. To put that in perspective, even on a $100,000 scale, that 9 percent is not enough to pay a full year’s rent in almost any U.S. city.

The moral of the speech was to reiterate the fact that, regardless of statistics and predictions, we give effort in college because being educated is simply better than not being educated.

I can’t help but wonder, is this what education is? Sitting in classrooms, daydreaming about doing things we actually want to do? After talking with numerous friends, it is evident that none of us feel remotely prepared to enter the “real world.” How is it that attendance at a top-50 university in the United States and $200,000 spent on tuition still leaves us feeling … unfulfilled?

Regardless, we all have to move on. Whether it’s graduate school, the working world or traveling, our degrees should be put to use in one way or another. I suppose the quest for education is continuous.

Nicole Spiteri is a junior majoring in English literature.

February 5, 2012


Nicole Spiteri

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