A Q&A About College with a College Professor
When transitioning from high school to college, students ask a lot of questions. From the benefit of receiving a college degree to figuring out which career path to follow, there are many things to consider.
We asked Dr. Patrick Loebs, a communication professor at Grace College in Winona Lake, Ind., a few questions to see his take on some pretty big questions about college.
A.) The benefits of a liberal arts education are extensive and multifaceted. The whole point of a liberal arts education is education of the whole person. It’s about shaping the individual to be a better citizen and a better, more well-rounded thinker. These traits then translate to job-related skills within a chosen major.
Equally important are the host of intangible, “soft skills” that will also be developed. These soft skills include such things as how to deal with disappointment, how to work in groups, how to manage your time, how to make decisions, how to approach authority figures, and others. When striving to obtain these soft skills, career readiness, and a whole-person education, there is really no better place than a liberal arts college.
Q.) What should a student consider when choosing the “right” college?
A.) The “right” college is all about fit. Do the majors offered correspond to your intended career? How did you get along with the students and professors you met? Did you like the campus and the area offerings? Students sometimes forget that, when they start college, they are becoming part of a community. Their college experience will be better if the community is one that they can happily exist within.
Q.) How might a student decide what to major in?
A.) I believe it is important keep an open mind when selecting a major. I encourage all freshmen to wait for a few months before declaring a major. In all likelihood, in one of their general education classes, each student will be exposed to a concept that they didn’t even know existed – something that truly piques their interest. Afterwards, they should go and meet with an advisor and seek guidance on what career fields might match this passion. Even then, I advise students to hold that decision loosely, for one never knows when a more fitting major may arise.
Q.) How might a student decide what job or career path to consider?
A.) Pick something that you love and find a way to make it into a career. There is no substitute for passion. The desire for money and prestige are often just distractions from a fully satisfying career. There are caveats to this philosophy, however. Students need to work hard to strike a balance between pragmatism and passion. Don’t let naïve idealism get in the way of reality.
Spend time with your advisor. They are well versed in the fields in which they teach and can help you set a goal that balances your passions with the realities of the working world.
Q.) What can students do to ready themselves for a career while in college?
A.) Internships are great. Applied learning will help, too. Most importantly, however, embrace humility. Realize that college is a time to learn. Recognize that even after you get a degree, you are still at the bottom of the career ladder and will have to produce and prove yourself if you want to move up. Understanding this and not expecting an employer to be impressed by your recently earned bachelor’s degree will go a long way to minimizing personal disappointment.
Q.) How does a student balance everything successfully (e.g. classes, homework, social life, work, athletics, etc.)?
A.) Make hard choices. Cut out that which needs cutting. Weigh future benefit over immediate satisfaction. Students have to realize that that they can’t study and watch Netflix and hang out with friends and be an athlete and work a full-time job – there are not enough hours in a day. Students have to prioritize. Those choices are never easy, but they are part of life. I’ve seen many students decide that fleeting glories should take precedence over career opportunities. In these cases, regret is typically the result.
Of course, this, like anything else, requires balance. Too much studying and no social life will make student’s college experience miserable. Too much social life and no studying will result in other issues. Still, erring on the side of academics and career readiness will be beneficial in the long run.
Q.) What advice would you give to students as they transition from high school into college?
A.) Get ready for some of the best and most difficult years of your life. By the time you finish your college education, you will hardly recognize yourself. Your friend group will have changed. Your career path will likely be different that you expected. Your worldview will have broadened. Your intellectual capacity will have expanded.
You will be humbled but emboldened. You will be launched into a career mindset, and will have thus discarded many of the “how to” lessons from your past. Whereas high school prepares you for college, college prepares you for life.