The intangible value of a Wellesley education

The start of the academic year is morphing quickly into recruitment season for many upperclasswomen. Some of us find ourselves recounting summer experiences while simultaneously planning for next summer, dropping resumes in myCWS, attending the MIT Career Fair or practicing for interviews. Some students have even referred to recruiting as their fifth or sixth class. We seek out people who obtained the most prestigious internships, indulge our fantasies of becoming the future Hillary Clinton and read stories of alumnae featured in Forbes Magazine.

Many first years are likewise busy joining an array of organizations quickly and exploring different disciplines to figure out what they want to major in. The smell of ambition is strong on campus, with jobs and possible majors filling students’ minds.

Many Wellesley students prioritize getting a job after graduation, a worthwhile endeavor. However, amid the pressure and studying, we must remind ourselves that finding a job should not be the only reason for attending college. Wellesley should be about questioning what we want to make of our lives, not merely about figuring out what we have to do to get the job that we want. Wellesley’s liberal arts curriculum, committed professors and mission are reminders that a job is not the only goal of a college degree.

The New York Times recently published a piece by Ben Carpenter about the need to increase career training in college. He advocates for institutions of higher education to place more emphasis on finding a job after college. For most, finding a job is a necessity: That much is clear to every college and every student.

Some universities, like MIT, are job-focused and graduate extremely successful, entrepreneurial students. But at Wellesley, we sometimes forget that we are here for an education that encompasses much more than a job after college. Wellesley’s mission is not to graduate better job applicants, but better people.

A student should not go through our four years at Wellesley, in the words of journalist William Deresiewicz, “like a sleepwalker.” As Deresiewicz states in his article for the magazine The New Republic “Don’t send your kid to the Ivy League,” college is one of the best and most important time periods in our lives to reflect. We are not at Wellesley solely to learn how to analyze a book, solve a calculus problem or organize an essay. We are also here to question why we do what we do,why we are who are, and why we want to do what we want to do.

We are also here to learn from people who are different from ourselves, open our minds to what they have to say — and maybe change our minds. We are also at Wellesley to be happy, to enjoy these unique four years of our lives and learn what is it that will make us happy when we graduate.

Wellesley’s curriculum and professors give us the opportunity to explore and enjoy the richness of a college degree, but many of us forget to do so. Personal growth is, after all, up to each of us to pursue and achieve.

In Wellesley’s competitive environment, we should not let prestige guide us. We should not dive into applications or interviews with a job title and an annual salary in mind, but with a clear and independent understanding of who we want to be as people. Let’s be deliberately pragmatic. Let’s be ambitious, but not blindly ambitious.

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