During Convocation, President Mistick announced that the U.S. News & World Report 2012 “America’s Best Colleges” issue, categorized Wilson College as a “Great Schools, Great Prices” college, ranking fifth in the north and eleventh overall in the Best Regional Colleges Focused on Undergraduate Education category. This title may not initially appear important to you, as you are already accepted or employed at Wilson, but the implications of attending a ‘great school’ at a ‘great price’ are invaluable
The Georgetown University Center for Education and Workforce recently reported that, “Over a lifetime, individuals with a Bachelor’s degree make 84 percent more than those with only a high school diploma.” The unemployment rate in the United States is currently 9.1 percent; however, it is five percent for American citizens with a Bachelor’s degree. These figures suggest that having a Bachelor’s degree is worthwhile.
However, this is not to say that a Bachelor’s degree guarantees happiness and success. In fact, I suggest you take an attitude of cautious optimism and thoughtfully examine which skills you can obtain while at Wilson. Many believe in the American Dream. Rooted in the Declaration of Independence, we are told, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all [wo]men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” This is what the Declaration of Independence proclaims, but this is not the reality of all situations. Optimism is important, but once you forget about the American Dream, clear your head and realize that you will get two meaningful skill sets from Wilson College. You will gain critical thinking skills and have the ability to network with professors.
Academically you will learn critical thinking skills and complex reasoning. Take rigorous classes. They will be difficult, but you will be forced to truly “know” the material with expertise and then you will have a skill that you can offer the world or your employer who will pay you. You may be thinking, “I doubt that what I’m learning in Course X will be applicable in the workplace. It’s too advanced.” This may be true; a direct correlation may not be present, but consider this. An athlete may lift weights while training and will practice lifting far more than is ever required for a game. This may be what your professors ask you to do: academic weight lifting. Learn information that is more advanced than what your desired job requires. The challenges presented to you to solve in your coursework are artificial. By this, I mean that you are often presented with a problem first, and the consequences are minor (other than bad grades) if you do not solve them correctly. In a job, the paramaters within which you must work are rarely clarified and you will be expected to anticipate problems before they are presented to you. Enjoy the practice of thinking critically and utilizing complex reasoning. The challenge to apply these skills is available at Wilson College.
Socially, you will learn to network and develop meaningful relationships. Never before in my life have I been surrounded by so many intelligent people as I have been at Wilson College. At Wilson you are granted an academic advisor. You are also able to learn under accomplished men and women. Get to know them. They will help you get into graduate school. I wouldn’t be concerned about impressing them, but if you find professors who are genuinely interested in a particular academic topic, talk with them. Ask them about their current research and ask them about their past dissertations. You may not be in an atmosphere again where you find such an expert who is willing to share their knowledge.
According to an article in the Huffington Post, “[O]ver two thirds of graduates must borrow money, carrying an average of $24,000 in debt when they graduate.” A friend of mine who just started school at Columbia University just told me he will be $100,000 in debt when he graduates and he honestly does not know what he wants to do. Take this information, carry it with you during your academic career and face your challenges with cautious optimism as you embark in your academic journey at Wilson College and be proud that you are going to a ‘great school’ at a ‘great price.’