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Education more than about finding a job

By Andrew Kemle, September 13 2016 —

The Alberta economy is spitting out noxious smoke, and this means the prospect of employment following the completion of your degree is murky.

Good economy or not, getting a job after graduation isn’t guaranteed — and now’s a good time to recognize this fact. Not so that you can make peace with the unemployment line or start praying for a proletariat revolution, but so you can free yourself from the notion that the sole purpose of education is to prepare you for a job.

Back in the day, post-secondary institutions were not intended to ease you into the job market. Theology and philosophy were offered alongside medicine and law simply because learning was in and of itself virtuous. And even then, law and medicine classes were focused on theory. That aspect has been lost in the bustle to get that first six-digit paycheck.

With such a grim economy, now is the best time to take classes that you find interesting, as opposed to slogging through a turgid course for how it will look on your resume.

Does a post-feminist literature class sound like something you’d enjoy? Then take it. Overheard your friends discussing Universal Grammar and you want to know what the fuss is about? Find an introductory linguistics class and go wild. Always wanted to try acting? There are theatre classes, believe it or not. See if they’ll take you and go home happy for once.

Society benefits when its student population is engaged in learning, not just job training. We end up being more engaged, more intellectually flexible and more informed. We can propose real solutions and offer substantive social critiques, and if we’re lucky, we might just become more tolerant of opposing viewpoints.

And think about the benefits to you. Being interested and engaged in a class you like is a great way to pad aGPA that might get slaughtered by course requirements. Your stress level will go down significantly if you actually look forward to classes. Your problem solving skills may get a necessary jumpstart simply by being around different types of thinkers. And that $3,000 cheque you give to administration every semester might just be easier to swallow if you feel like you’re not just a standard employee fresh off the production line.

The job prospects of many students are grim, but the point of education isn’t just job applications anyways. While we’re all languishing in uncertainty, perhaps it’s best to dip your toe in the lake of knowledge while you still can.

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