The Purpose of College

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I’ve spent the last four years of my life as a student of the University of Texas. So now that I’m graduating, what have I actually learned? Well the truth is, I could easily have condensed my ‘textbook education’ of facts and figures from the last 8 semesters into the span of 6 months. But the purpose of college is so much greater than what I was taught in the classroom. 

In my eyes, the overall purpose of college was not about understanding business principles and memorizing marketing terminology, it was about learning how to learn. It was about learning time management and learning how and what to prioritize. It was about learning who I was and what I stand for; about learning how to be in a relationship and not assuming I’ll get it right the first time around. It was about writing the first real chapter of my life, and it was about learning how to make it as interesting and meaningful as possible. It was a beautiful time of discovery and a time that I won’t get to repeat.

With all of that said, I do have advice for anyone willing to listen.

  • Dont’s:
    • The most important piece of advice that I have is not to leave your choice of friends up to fate. Choose wisely and carefully the people that you surround yourself with, and try to befriend someone from every grade.
    • Don’t ever ever let yourself be bored. The things you’ll regret after college are the things you didn’t do, so make time for new experiences. Seek out cool stories and memories!
    • Whatever you do, do not allow grades or salary to determine your value or worth. If you do find yourself tied up with grades or career development, know that prayer, not drugs and alcohol, is always the best way to relieve stress.
    • Every man wants to talk about what matters, but no one wants to start the conversation. Don’t be afraid to start the conversation.
    • Don’t take shortcuts. Learn the smartcuts instead.
    • Don’t shy away from non-fiction books just because you hate your textbook. Reading is the quickest way to accumulate several lifetime’s worth of knowledge in your short time here on earth.
    • Don’t ever say no to a road-trip.
  • Do’s:
    • Always go into public dressed like you are about to meet the love of your life.
    • Find something to be passionate about early on, and stick with it. It’s important to always have a personal project that you can work on outside of school.
    • Join an organized community that matters to you.
    • Be young and fun while you can. Cultivate a youthful spirit: one that never ceases to question, wonder, laugh, love, or get up on the table and sing.
    • The best way to balance your social life, university grades, spiritual life, and physical health is to combine them. Study with friends, listen to sermons while at the gym, join a missional community at church and cram for tests while going on a walk.
    • Step out of your comfort zone and improve yourself in some way every week. Daily goal-setting is the best way to stay accountable. 
    • I cannot stress enough the importance of writing things down and documenting. Pictures don’t capture everything.
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Cohorts and Comrades

Cohorts and Comrades

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that gives value to survival. It provides fellowship, dependability, camaraderie, collegiality, and community. Without these things, we’d not only be helpless, but hopeless.

Friendship is something which nearly everyone agrees is worthwhile in life. It’s like we were born with an instinctive urge to communicate, to speak about life on the edge, life in the shadows. With my two best friends, the conversation is never over. Before them, I can be sincere and think aloud without guarding my thoughts. They are the ones I take on the world with, the ones helping me achieve my dreams, the ones that bring out the best in me. There’s a lot of ‘why’ people in this world, but my best friends are the ‘why nots’. We became friends not because of perceived advantages but because of our admiration of each other’s virtues. But over the years, I have found that there is not one type of friend that is best on all occasions and in all situations. I have some friends who I’ve known since we were wearing braces and knee-high socks. I have some friends who I met last week, who I’ve shared beers with, laughs with, or challenging times with. Some are like brothers and some are my ‘sit around and contemplate life’ friends. The great thing about friendship is that no two friendships are ever going to be exactly the same. Different people are in our lives for different reasons, and our relationships with them are reflective of that, so don’t resent a particular characteristic in one friendship, or attempt to make a friendship something that it’s not. Instead, appreciate that friendship for exactly what it is. With that said, many of us have gotten used to living without “friends of the heart” and instead passing our time with “friends of the road” — friends that are good for a laugh and a beer, but not much else. Everybody should be searching for a friend of the heart; someone who—if you just admit that you don’t know how to do something—-will fall over themselves trying to help. Some people spend their entire lives looking for these people without any luck. In your search do not be short-changed by choosing personality over character, and in a group of friends, make sure that every voice is heard, every question is asked, and nothing is taken for granted.

My friends know that I am always out looking for the next adventure or the next opportunity to get myself into trouble, and as a result I’ve ended up with some pretty great stories. I love to tell stories; stories about experiences, accomplishments and all kinds of failures, and for some reason I always figured my best friends would be the ones who were willing to listen. I finally gave up that philosophy when I realized it wasn’t true. The truth is, my good friends already know all my best stories, but my best friends don’t need to be told, because they were the ones that lived them with me.