Personality and character should flourish in intellectual life as well as in social life, and there should be no divide between school work and expressing youth and creativity. What one finds on the average college campus is disheartening but understandable: it is the meeting of young minds abandoning the classroom and attempting to flourish after hours, where individual character is ok to display but where it is seldom supported by a healthy environment for its exercise.
To say that college seems useless to many young people is fine: they are just acknowledging that at the junction where four years of irreplaceable opportunity are theirs it is not helpful to have that opportunity already defined. They can bridge the gap between classes and the real world of human ...view middle of the document...
They help a student enter the market place of ideas with more than just their naïve opinions and with a sense of humility and respect for the ideas of others.
The focus, however, for most students going into college today is not to learn from others how to have integrity or how to know themselves and apply their true talents of character in the real world. Most students are concerned with being useful.
Students want skills that will earn them security and prosperity in life. That is not a need that one can belittle or ignore, but it has led to a large amount of young people graduating college without feeling passionate about their futures, or even knowing what they are passionate about, because supply and demand is guiding them.
A rebirth of passion for knowledge cannot be copied from the annals of past experience – but what can be copied are the ways that previous great minds achieved success: their dedication to hard work and developing their own character: knowing themselves. Virtues are timeless; integrity is timeless. Because integrity in action is the way to influence ones peers and one’s culture, a college student should learn how to act with integrity in college. Spreading ideas to peers and professors, in papers and at parties alike has been achieved by people of virtue from the Sophists of the Greek philosophers’ golden age, to the brave social upheaval accomplished by the civil rights movement in our own century. Students should understand that when they study the classic thought of past brilliant minds and learn about the choices they made, what they should be remembering are their mistakes and their successes; and making the decision between the bad and the good is an exercise in itself that will help a young person think independently about their own personal integrity.