Why College? Veterans Know.

The reason to attend college is debatable.  It shouldn’t be.  Let’s clear the air.

College, if you’re lucky enough to go, is simply the place to finish out the “how to be human” training we began in kindergarten.  It is not, nor will it ever prove to be, a kind of vocational training ground.  But that is what a lot of people seem to believe it is.  My question, the question this post asks, is why?  Why is college now discussed as merely a part of our professional development, as opposed to our human development?  Perhaps more important than that question is this one:  what can be done about it?

Lucky for all of us, I have the answers:  College became known as a place for professional development because the baby-boomers found out they actually had to work for a living, and the resultant anger they felt clouded their subsequent decision making.  Poor decision making led to them not wanting to accept or own the fact that the America they grew up in did not happen by accident.  The question about the future is, of course, one that I can and will answer, but it is one that we all have to answer for ourselves.  Do things have to get worse before they get better?  Some seem to believe that.  Or can we just start making things better right now?

It’s a given that I had the least military bearing of any of my peers in the Air Force, but even I still recognized the value of “Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence In All We Do.”  I’m sure the other branches have some similarly applicable ideals to guide their decision making.

In other words, we should never forget that college is the place where we learn how to be human.  Being human entails getting along with people who are different from us.

Veterans know what it’s like to not get along with people who are different from us, and therefore must accept the new duty of re-enforcing college’s mission.  But there is more.  Veterans must not shirk the responsibility of reminding the country of the value of values.   Unfortunately for veterans, then, it seems the fight never ends.




  1. Larry H.

    Not sure of your reference about baby boomers thinking they ever thought they didn’t have to work for a living. Because they were the first generation where middle class people got to attend a higher learning institution?


    • A Mugwump

      Most of me wants to attempt to clarify, but then again the butt of a joke never thinks the joke is funny. 🙂 (You’re not exactly the boomer I had in mind.)


  2. Barb Watson

    Cleaning out email and this one grabbed me. It must be an interesting path to creatively and reflectively write every day!
    Writing suits you as a deep thinker 🙂
    I have two comments:
    1) In finishing up at Regis, I’m asked to consider a basic Jesuit consideration “How are we to live?”. In true Jesuit tradition we consider social justice, social responsibility and “being social”. A “Civil Society” considers culture, poverty and community.
    So I agree, higher education isn’t Trade School; it is a broadening of horizons and deepening of values. Go deep!
    2) I too would ask you not to prejudge Baby Boomers and lump them into a lazy group. Remember this is the group born from parents who fought WWII. When we look at generalizations about ; BBers, Generation X’s, Millennials/Generation Y’s, New Silent Generation Z’s, BBer’s stand out for over-working. They often sacrifice balance in life to climb the corporate ladder or over-work. The more recent generations value balance more.
    We have a vivid contrast of the generations in the nursing workforce at any healthcare institution. All the generations are represented in a single shift working side-by-side. Each generation contributes to a diverse workforce culture.


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