Nowadays more people are attending school, regardless of age, social class or background all with different purposes, but with the mission to take advantage of all the opportunities it provides. Louis Menand, the author of “Live and Learn: Why We Have College,” explains how learning can be measured in three developed theories. Theory 1 believes education should be a meritocratic system based on abilities and talents. Theory 2 exposes students to different experiences needed for the real world by promoting personal and intellectual growth. Theory 3 supports students to specialize the sector they have in mind. If we only focus on random classes and judge based on the grades obtained we will not have the necessary knowledge to operate in the real word and function as a society. Therefore, I believe in Menand’s second theory where college encourages people to discover themselves, focus on what the students want to learn, and provide opportunities for everyone to attend college.
Menand’s second theory encourages student’s individualism and to explore the world and seek real world experience. Learning beyond what is required for a career in a specific field provides an understanding of how society works, how we fit in, and how it also expands personal growth. Learning just for the sake of learning is a privilege that not all students have. Therefore, we need to know that our efforts will help in all aspects of life. A contrary proposition is Theory 1 proposed by Menand. According to Menand, ” it doesn’t matter which courses students take, or even what is taught in them, as long as they’re rigorous enough for the sorting mechanism to do its work. All that matters is the grades”( ). Menand’s point is that Theory 1 defines the system as a filtering tool to categorize the most intelligent from the least intelligent. If we do not convince people that a practical education is more important, then grades will be our only reward at the end, our potential and professionalism will be measured based solely on grades obtained.
Through my experience, college is still giving me the opportunity to grow and learn. Different courses I have taken have helped me understand their application in the real world whether they are related to my career or not, which is getting me prepared for my future career. It has also helped me to realize what my skills are and my weaknesses giving me the opportunity to improve and enhance my knowledge. Opposed to this is the Theory 3 that proposes only to take the necessary classes for the career in mind focusing only on what is required, puts limitations to discover other areas in which you may feel identified and also limiting personal growth.
When your decision to attend college is to gain knowledge not only influenced by a career or as often pressured to obtain the best grades or be the best in the class as Theory 1 proposes, it has greater long-term benefits. Menand’s states that, “Education is about personal and intellectual growth, not about wining some race to the top”(). Essentially what the author is indicating is that education is about growing your moral self, gaining all the knowledge you possibly can, and not trying to surpass others to prove who’s more intellectually advanced.
Obtaining a college degree is not the ultimate goal for a person who has attended college, it is to expand their knowledge. A degree only represents a step to better integrate into the real world with a firmer foundation. The ideal outcome after obtaining a diploma would be to be cataloged as an intelligent person and at the same time have obtained life skills that contribute to one’s career and social values that citizens of the country need.
Some of the reasons why people go to college will range from academic, social or personal. But we should take the opportunity to learn and not limit ourselves. The people who agree with Theory 1 believe that the most important thing are grades. But is it worth investing time and money in something that does not assure us that it will be useful in the end? College gives us the opportunity to go through this experience before moving forward. Since I have taken different classes I have discovered the subjects with which I have an affinity for and those that I do not, this experience let me to self-discovery. Theory two supports that everyone has an opportunity to go to school, opening doors and expanding people’s knowledge. As Menand says, “it’s a way of producing a society of like-minded grownups” (). It is important that our society is shaped with people who have developed academically and personally.
College gives us the opportunity to discover who we are and what we like. Regardless of the decision people decide on whether to go to the University and continue with their path or not, college provides many opportunities for anyone who has the desire to expand their knowledge, which in the end is reflected in a better society.