This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

What a college degree was for in the days of our ancestors, and now

When my ggggrandfather Hope Atherton graduated from Harvard in the class of '65 (1665 that is), he was prepared to start his ministry. And that meant that, at age 19, he was about to start the process of learning. By the way, don't be too impressed by the class of 1665, by that time Harvard had been there for 38 years.

In college, they made him study the classics. He learned Latin. He was introduced to the great thinkers. And if they did their job well, they taught him the joy of learning, and how to go about doing it for a lifetime.

College degrees have changed quite a lot since his time, and are now expected to fulfill the role mostly of trade schools. That is, someone goes to a college to learn a particular skill so that they can get a job. But colleges still teach pure learning.

When I went to college, it never occurred to me for an instant that it was anything other than learning a skill, which was graphic design, which would get me a job. But my school actually did manage to slip a little University tuition into me, and by that I mean its second meaning, not its first.

I was introduced to so many things - writers, artists, etc. that I knew nothing about from my time in High School. I had always been a nerdy, bookish, person, but in college I exploded. There was so much to learn! And after all of these years, I still feel the momentum.

So, you can point to a college and talk about its football team, or its great programs that teach skills, but at its heart is a University. And Universities help to create people who change the world, by teaching them how to learn.
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