The Purpose Of College

Naïve youngsters imagine that the purpose of university is to acquire learning, expand their horizons, study fun subjects and so forth; in other words, to become educated. Less naïve youngsters, and most parents, imagine that the real purpose of university is not so much to become educated as to obtain a good degree that will open the doors to a good job. Ambitious youngsters – the sort who decide at the age of ten that they are going to be prime minister – and worldly-wise parents alike know that the purpose of university is not so much to obtain a good degree as to network and make such friends as will subsequently, by dint of patronage and reciprocal back-scratching, facilitate your career. Such parents will disapprove of any friends their offspring makes that may accounted as useless for this purpose, considering – often but not always correctly – that they, the parents, can better predict who will be useful twenty years down the road. This lays the table for serious conflict with their naïve youngsters, who imagine that friendship should be a matter of choice, pleasure and sentiment. Such conflict can be exacerbated by the failure of the worldly-wise parents to explain precisely why they are counselling against these friends, which allows the offspring to assume that they are motivated by moralistic aversion to minor sartorial details. One thing is quite indubitable: eighteen is far too late to begin to teach anyone how the world wags.

A similar trouble with the so-called Greatest Generation was that they were always banging on about being nice to Uncle So-and-So, but without explaining why, but at the same time negating the truth about this patronage opportunity by telling the sprogs the heinous lie that hard work and honesty would be rewarded.

Posted on September 9, 2010 at 10:54 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink

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