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Why are you here?

By Pete Adams
On August 30, 2012

My predecessor, Mike Hills, and I have been involved in some intense debates about the purpose of going to college. Undoubtedly, there are multiple reasons one would choose to
come to college. However, for simplicity's sake, I will only focus on two. There is the more traditional argument that college should first and foremost be for the exchange of ideas.
The primary focus should be on the liberal arts education,
and as a byproduct of this, one is more prepared to successfully navigate the challenges they are presented with
throughout the rest of their life. On the other side, you have those that choose college for the career opportunities it can provide them for the rest of their life. Rather than focusing on the traditional courses in college, more practical or direct courses would allow them to be successful and give them the ability to reach their dream jobs. There can be a sharp divide
between these two groups. The latter often blames the first for being irrational, while the first blames the latter for watering down the education at universities because they tend to place less value on the classic college courses and rhetoric that higher education was founded on. My major would fall into the latter category, but that doesn't mean I don't value philosophy or debate. There is no right or wrong reason to go to college. As long as you consider yourself in a better situation after four years (or more) you have obviously made a good decision. To steal a finance term, there are many ways that the net present value of your college education can be positive. In today's world, there can not be only one reason for higher education. One hundred years ago, college was for the rich white male, who most likely already had a sturdy career ahead of himself upon leaving. Those who didn't go to college
had reliable blue collar jobs. This isn't the world we live in today. College has become the new high school, a prerequisite for a career. Some may consider this unfortunate while
others may declare it to be great. Whatever side you are on, you must face the reality that a college degree is a necessity for a stable, well-paying job. For a variety of reasons, a care er may be one of the main reasons someone chooses to
go to college, and there is nothing wrong with that. Attending a university for the intellectual challenges and focusing on the classic liberal arts may be one's primary objective over their four years is fine too. What isn't okay is to deem one as a superior reason over the other, or for one side to say that
the other takes away from their experience. Self improvement should be the focus of every major decision we make in our lives. There are many ways to do this, and this is why Xavier is such a great university. Rather than being pegged into one path or career, you are exposed, albeit sometimes forced, into learning about a variety of subjects. I'm not saying the Core should be expanded, in fact I would be in favor of a
slight shrinking, or at least more choices. Xavier gives
you the opportunity to not only think critically for yourself but
put you in a position to have a career that you are passionate about. The Jesuit tradition is about educating the whole person, and whether you are in the humanities, business or a hard science you have the valuable chance to become a more well rounded individual. Every student has the same goal of self-improvement. Although everyone will take a different direction to get there, it is each other that can help us get to where we want to be. 

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