What matters: Learning for the sake of it

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While financial aid has been good to me, I will graduate with a considerable amount of student loan debt. It’s something I’ve accepted because I love this school and I love what I study. To me, the debt is worth the DePauw experience, but I am aware I may be naive to say so. I am an English writing major and a philosophy minor. I know these areas of study do not often produce college graduates who are poised to make a lot of money. But, again, I’ve accepted this. 

I do my best to learn for the sake of learning. The grade is not as important as what I walk away with after the semester is over. What I walk away with is intangible, ever-changing and complex. Whatever it is, it won’t get me a job by itself, and it won’t pay off my debt.

But I am proud to have it. I am proud to say that it helped shape my education, which shapes me. I am who I am because of what I’ve learned and experienced, and that is why I am dedicated to learning for the sake of it. My identity is at stake. 

I will admit, however, that I’ve missed a lot of classes here at DePauw. It’s frustrating because I missed most of those classes for stupid reasons, and it essentially wasted money spent toward my tuition. It has also lost me my membership in Media Fellows and ITAP.  But I do not regret how my college career has played out so far. Mark Twain is famous for saying "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education," and if he could just know everything about my college career, I think he'd probably give me a high five or something.  

I deserve every grade I’ve received, but a fair share of my grades don’t represent how much I learned in those classes. I’d be willing to say those classes were more valuable to me than they were to some of the students who earned a better grade. My classes have fundamentally altered my worldview and made me a stronger thinker. On paper, I don’t have much to show for, but deep within, I believe I’m better off.

Earning a high GPA is respectable, as it is a mark of one’s work ethic, but letter grades are simply an evaluation of our performance. At the end of the day, the grades of our essays, presentations and tests will not matter, just as our high school grades don’t matter now.

I’ve seen my colleagues share articles on social media that boast how much employers like liberal arts students. Articles like these attempt to reassure us that our college decision was a smart one, that we will too get employed! The liberal arts versus traditional college debate doesn’t really matter, though. What matters, I think, is what you bring to the table—those intangible qualities that make you irreplaceable. 

A fat GPA is meaningless if you can’t apply your intelligence to your job. The reason liberal arts students do well is because they can communicate effectively and reason critically. They are able to apply their education in their professional lives, but an Indiana University graduate could have the same ability.

My happiness level is incredibly high right now, and I have much for which to be thankful. Naive I may be, but I trust myself to enter professional environments with poise and confidence because I know what I know. I have spent my college career focused not on how to be the most employable, but on how to better myself. In our professional lives, the results of our actions will matter most. Our grades, inevitably, will fall to the wayside. 

 

-Weilhammer is a senior English Writing major from Indianapolis, Indiana.