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4 February, 2011 / Karl Maier

Does College Build Leaders?

I read a recent blog entry by James Altucher about 10 reasons not go to college.  Possibly this blog entry is just an absurd way to get publicity, but maybe it is serious at some level.

Indeed, I think it is a question worth asking.  Why spend $100,000 to $200,000 on a college education? Is it a good investment?  For some?  For all?  As the blog also suggests for some people there are other ways to grow, learn and mature.  Even to become a leader.  Start a business, travel, become excellent at something like art or sports.

However, if you do go to college, does college teach you to jump through hoops or to think for yourself?  Just getting into college is an exercise in following rules: do the homework, join the clubs, participate in sports, perform on the standardized test.  Is that really teaching kids to think for themselves?  What does college provide in terms of leadership, independent thought and values?  In an article in American Scholar, William Deresiewicz challenges us with the thought:

“the idea that true leadership means being able to think for yourself and act on your convictions. But how do you learn to do that? How do you learn to think?”

Excellent questions.  Perhaps people develop and refine their own convictions or values from associating with teams, tribes and groups.   College may be a good setting for finding people and groups with common core values.  If so, then college would be a fine place for developing leaders.  College may not be the only path to finding values and group association, but it seems to have some of the key requirements for developing leaders.

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