The next step: finding your way in college

As I sat in my Philosophy 11 Critical Thinking class I began to realize something; I have absolutely no idea how to think critically. Most everything from preschool to college has been spoon-fed to us. It seems we have never been asked or forced to think outside the box, rather we are given a structure for the way things should go.

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By Morgan Hall

Morgan Hall (Khai Le)

By Morgan Hall

As I sat in my Philosophy 11 Critical Thinking class I began to realize something; I have absolutely no idea how to think critically.

Most everything from preschool to college has been spoon-fed to us.

It seems we have never been asked or forced to think outside the box, rather we are given a structure for the way things should go.

“There should be general structure to college, and general classes you have to take to move on, but you don’t often get to experience the things you actually like,” said second year student Matthew Jones.

“College should be more challenging and open; you can learn more thorough interaction.”

Almost everything in education is the ideas and opinions of teachers and peers.

We are told what they see as truth, and what should be common knowledge.

There is an assigned set of rules to abide by.

It’s time to fess up. I came to college with the desire to be educated, but the more realistic reason most of us are here is for that piece of paper.

The piece of paper allows us to (in the absolutely cliché words of the ’90’s flick “American Pie”) “take the next step,” whether it’s a cosmetology license, or general education before a bachelors’ degree, or whatever.

It seems easy to get caught up in the normalcy of school and day-to-day life, and finally to see the secret of this thing we call an education.

Finally, the code to the whole idea of “formal education” is cracked – sit down, shut up and do what you’re told.

That is how to complete or come closer to your goals, your piece of paper, your “American Dream,” and that “next step.”

But what if we, as college students, decided to change our boring complacency and make our college years actually mean something?

What if we took the things we are told to believe and challenged them?

What if we decided to break the mundane stereotype of just some college students doing what they are told?

Yes, we do have to finish these required courses, and RCC is a great stepping stone to wherever our future paths may lead.

But maybe it’s time to break away from the ordinary and become something more, something extraordinary.

The so-called “college years” should be our time of growth, a time to learn and change, but it is also a time to create a foundation for yourself.

This is the time to mold who you are and who you will become.

College should be a time to become secure in who you are as an individual, what you believe and how you view the world.

This time should be to explore meaning and question the ideas you have been told are the truth.

Student Natalie Leroy made the brilliant point that “If you’re in college you’re not just here to get facts.”

“You are here to think critically in all aspects, this time is not just for gathering knowledge,” Leroy said. “College should be diverse. I think differently when I’m challenged.”

This is a time to be hungry for purpose, and decide to step out of the box of higher education and actually make a difference in your world.

Complications, struggles and mishaps can now become your claim to fame.

Perhaps it’s time to stop believing everything you hear, and start challenging yourself and learning from others.

Don’t formulate your opinions on the media or pop culture; do the research yourself then decide where you stand on politics, religion, or whatever the touchy, never-talked-about subject matter may be.

My philosophy professor made a great point the other day in class; he encouraged us to be “nerds,” to think analytically and look deeply into something to figure out what it really means.

That’s it! The point of college or higher education – it’s not just about structure and bookwork but it is a time to figure things out for ourselves while we improve our world, break the stereotypes and change our ideas.

(Vanessa Soto)

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