Don’t let your schooling interfere with your education

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

mark twain education quote

As a beginning freshman student, you were perhaps a bit apprehensive about the next few years of your life, and uncertain about where it would all lead. Few college students have a clear path mapped out to take them directly to their future career choices. Even after earning a degree, the future way may seem tangled, leading to advanced studies, part-time employment or an unforeseen “detour” prior to embarking on what would be termed a career. There is also a growing trend toward “job-hopping,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, and many job changes also constitute new career directions.

Some have called this life

Platitudes aside, as you begin your “college career,” you might want to keep in mind a bit of advice commonly attributed to America’s humorist emeritus, Mark Twain. Writer, newspaperman, satirist, traveler, adventurer and wry observer of life, Samuel Clemens actually spent little time in school, but never let that stop him, and he went on to achieve acclaim, but not without hitting some potholes.

The advice is: Don’t let your schooling interfere with your education.

More than just a twist on words, it embodies an important concept to keep in mind as you choose your classes, manage your schedule, consider your summers, and as you journey through life. In the modern vernacular, it might be translated to “Don’t worry so much about grade point average; learn about life.” There are worlds beyond the classroom. Mastery of advanced math concepts, the scientific name of a strain of bacteria, the cultural significance of Dia de los Muertos, and the thrill of watching a whale breach may all be considered equal as “life experiences.”

Embrace Curiosity

Retaining a childlike awe of nature and cultivating a fascination about the way things work in the world around you will serve you well, in the classroom and beyond. A healthy curiosity, far from killing your chances of success, may contribute to high achievement. Questioning can be the catalyst which leads to understanding and to new solutions. So, the next time you wonder “why” or “how,” take the time to seek out an answer. Research on the web, talk to experts, experiment.

Figuring out how things work can save you money or perhaps earn you money, impress your friends, contribute to your enjoyment and boost your sense of self-worth. Cooking, auto mechanics, computer web design, musical talent, or writing skills all can serve you well.

Become Involved in a Cause

Volunteer participation in something that interests you will expand your involvement with your community, introduce you to interesting people, make you feel good, and open your mind to possibilities. Whether you partake in a benefit run to combat a disease, help out at a food bank or homeless shelter, stuff envelopes for a political candidate, or tutor a child, joining in an effort with other people and for a specific purpose is good for the soul. Not incidentally, company recruiters as well as college admissions officers consider volunteer activities a plus on a resume.

Cultivate a Passion

Whether it’s your vocation, a hobby, a belief, or a personal goal, living a meaningful life consists of dedication to a principle beyond your day-to-day existence. Although you may express a fervent hope for world peace, chances are that you as an individual may not be able to have much effect. The key to living well is to find a balance between big ideas and individual efforts. The act of going to work each day becomes a personal commitment to excellence if you believe in and enjoy the work you do. Likewise, if your current situation is less than satisfying, a consuming hobby or a well thought-out and seriously-considered plan to implement change can provide direction and purpose. Just keep your sights on the goal.


So don’t let schooling be the only education you focus on. The world outside the classroom can teach you many things as well; the key is to find a healthy balance.


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Jeremy Kaplan

SEO Engineer at GraduationSource. Once ate 200 buffalo wings in one sitting. Then I woke up. Google+

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