So much of college is full of learning but deprived of wisdom. Here are ten quotes to sprinkle some wisdom into the vast expanse of assignments, quizzes, and test. The authors of these quotes didn’t necessarily have college in mind when they wrote them. However, most of them have been intensely powerful and revelatory for me throughout my college experience. Without further ado, let’s jump into the ten quotes that can help you survive college.
1. “To remain ignorant of history is to remain forever a child.”
–Marcus Tullius Cicero
Regardless of your major, you’re going to inevitably take at least one history course as a college student. The platitude that history is a tool to help people empathize with their fellow man oversimplifies the value of historical knowledge. Knowing about what came before you helps you to see paradigms and to be able to articulate those paradigms in a coherent manner. Put simply, learning the history of humanity lends to a better understanding of your place in the world.
2. “[I]n college there is no time to commune with one’s thoughts. One goes to college to learn, it seems, not to think.”
Similarly, the nature of college and the workplace necessitates the absorption of as much information as possible. Quotes like this remind me that in college memorization is valued over rumination. Learning becomes a monotonous task that leads to nowhere. But before you decide to bypass college altogether, know that tedious memorization isn’t the one straight and narrow path. For example, rather than completing all of your readings, read most of them and then set aside at least an hour for jotting down notes and analyzing the text. That way college doesn’t just amount to a grade on a piece of paper that may or may not earn you a job.
3. “A fool’s brain digests philosophy into folly, science into superstition, and art into pedantry. Hence University education.”
–George Bernard Shaw
So much of academia is about abject insecurity. I find myself falling victim to this too. Halfway through answering a question, I’ll realize how disgustingly pedantic I sound. And it really stems from insecurity, out of a need to show everyone that you’re more erudite than you actually are. Moreover, especially in the liberal arts, absorbing as much information as possible, despite not being able to remotely articulate the usefulness of that information, is prized over an insightful understanding of one subject. I’ve heard many of my friends subtly boast that they “know a little about a lot.” I don’t suggest learning every minor detail, but you have to be able to connect a subject to worlds outside of it. Otherwise, you’re confusing information with knowledge.
4. “I am not a person of opinions, because I feel the counter arguments too strongly.”
College is a time for developing your beliefs. You may cringe at who you used to be and believe you’ve gained a sufficient amount of knowledge to denounce the lunatic fringes and the idiots. But remember that plenty of intelligent people exist in every group. Calling a person an “idiot” doesn’t make you any smarter. That isn’t to say that our views should always remain neutral, that we should constantly avow objectivity at the expense of actual opinions. And I think Shelly was being a bit disingenuous to say that she’s completely opinionless. But this quote does acknowledge the grey area in each issue. Plus, unless you’re stagnating in your development, it would stand to reason that ten years from now you’ll be laughing at the old college you. So don’t become too attached to certainty.
5. “You wasted $150,000 on an education you could a got for $1.50 in late fees at the public library.”
–Matt Damon and Ben Affleck
No, this quote doesn’t prove that college is a waste of time. This quote– like many quotes in Good Will Hunting– should instead be a reminder that college is an investment. Coming out conversant in a certain field is great and all, and you SHOULD strive to become as conversant as possible. But you should also worry about life after college and how you may use your newfound knowledge. College is an investment, not a badge to flaunt.
6. “Some people get an education without going to college. The rest get it after they get out.”
Much of college is about giving you a modicum of knowledge to work off of, just the most basic and relevant information to facilitate your research outside of class. If you ever talk to someone who’s tremendously fit, they’ll tell you that the most important aspect of fitness is what you do outside of the gym. So is the case for gaining knowledge. I’m definitely not claiming to be anything more than a dumb, naive twenty-year-old kid, but I have found this to be very true.
7. “Strangers when you meet, strangers when you part -a gymnasium of bodies namelessly masturbating each other…It was like a garden filled with poisoned fruit and good fruit. You had to know which to pick and eat, which to leave alone.”
High school is a beautiful time in which sexuality blossoms and matures; on the other hand, college is a time for the disquieting threat of STDs to come knocking at your door. I’m not completely advocating against promiscuity as long as it’s safe. But I can speak from personal experience when I say that soulless hookups are not the path to choose. Make friends and hookup with those friends. Don’t base your friendships off of sex. That’ll lead to a bunch pitifully weak relationships with people who just desire you corporeally. And you’re better than that I’m sure.
8. “The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too.”
So many college students love with such unbridled passion, seemingly unaware of the risk involved. Truthfully, I know many people who are aware of it. Love is just something that’s hard to avoid, especially when you’re young. But love should never be fully dependent. Whether thing are complicated or your married to someone, you should always take some alone time to muse with yourself. Trust me. It’ll be more than worth it. I would know. I’m a twenty-two-years-old.
9. “Being broke is a temporary situation. Being poor is a state of mind.”
For students who are supporting themselves, you probably already know that college adds a dent to your finances. The majority of your academic career, you’ll alternate between being broke and barely at subsistence level. That’s just the nature of pursuing your dreams. Welcome to the real world. Oh, and I forgot to mention that I don’t have to worry about going hungry, since my parents are more than capable and willing to pay. With that knowledge, I’m sure this quote is even more annoying to you now. But it’s true for most students I meet who don’t have the privilege that I possess.
10.”College is like looking both ways before crossing the street and getting hit by an airplane.”
College is a time of profound change. Your views will change, your career choices, your style, and most of all your major. Essentially, the old you will die, but you won’t have time to mourn his or her death. You’ll be too busy either loving your life or wishing you were someone else. Either way, college is beautifully unexpected. And just when you realize the doors may not be open for you anymore, you’ll savor every last moment.