Of late I find myself wrestling with rather odd questions; questions such as “Will I be ready for the real world after I have graduated?”, “Does it mean I am learned after my degree has been conferred on me?”, “Will I able to tender my resignation should I find the environment in which I work unfulfilling?”
Of all the students I feel sorry for, are those in my position. As the year draws to a close; for many people that means the preparation for end of year examination is in order, but for graduands the stress is mounting as they prepare for departure to the ‘real world’. Graduands find themselves wrestling with the idea of going to a place of employ or taking a gap-year in the exotic islands of Caribbean. The truth is these people are suffering from nervous conditions at this stage of their lives.
What really bothers most graduands is whether they are ready for the corporate world and the responsibilities that life after college offers. What will I be doing everyday of my life as a graduate and a professional. Many people who walked this path tell me that I am going to spend a better day at the premises of my employer, that sounds fantastic so long as I will grow both personally and professionally.
I did not initially plan to moan and nurse my anxiety concerning my prospects after the rector has given me a tap o the head and conferrers that Bachelor of Commerce. But what worries me is whether the University prepares its student adequately for the world outside college? As much as the health of the bank balance must always be favourable in order to enjoy the luxury of life, I hold a view that suggests that graduates ought to be socially responsible citizens, one which endeavors to critically challenge the status quo.
I wonder how will those charged with managing universities will react when I say that it is the university’s imperative to develop graduates that are highly sought-after, who are multi-faceted, are able to engage openly and think constructively and independently? Universities are academic institutions and as such students main focus must be centred around academics,getting good grades and to a lessor extent downing a glass of beer as I am doing in the picture embedded on this post. However, what benefit does it hold for a society if universities produce students who can simply read, learn and regurgitate information? I believe that university’s goal is to produce graduates that can critically analyse and question what is being shoved to them as established truth.
What does being learned mean? Does holding strings of degree define a learned man? What if he is irresponsible and self-centred with no interest on what is happening around him?
Politicians are quick to pronounce that educated people are needed to serve the needs of the economy (forget that most of these politicians academic credentials is questionable). A good friend of mine (@JustSaySid) holds a view that says we must educate people so as to prepare them to be full participants of democratic processes in this South Africa and that extend to debating a proposed green paper to doing a submission in either houses of parliament. Did I also mention that he wants to work for the Parliament of the Republic? This must be one patriotic chap! I, on the other hand honestly think that education can and should be able to inform people to discern reality from political ramblings, to appreciate life more by giving us the power to read for pleasure, write poetry to the standard of Pablo Neruda, compose music better that Beethoven or try to understand the world better and so on and so forth and stuff like that……
In all seriousness, to me education means development. Personal development and engagement in intellectually-charged conversations that seek to challenge those I interact with on a daily basis. After a number of years I have left this historic centre of learning named Stellenbosch University, I will be glad if I can be defined as learned by the virtue of the traits that I am an agent for social change, a responsible citizen, and individual who think independently, counter-culturally and open-mindedly. Learned I will consider my self…
But that’s enough from me. What do you think it means to be a learned individual?