Why College?

Why are you going to college?
It wasn’t a question I really thought about. “Of course I have to go to college. It’s an important experience. And I have to go to become a doctor. What a stupid question.” So I did my best in high school only in order to go to college. 

After going through a couple of years of my undergrad schooling, I began to think that there was more to this whole education thing than I had previously thought. 
“Do what you love, but don’t get a useless degree.” “As long as you follow your passions, you’ll be fine.” “Just marry rich *joking-but-not-really-joking laughter*”
“I HATE this stupid pointless class.” “I never do my homework or go to class.” “I don’t really know why I’m here, I just know I have to get a degree to do anything.”

Why are you going to college?
30 years ago, something like 70% of college matriculants went to school because they wanted to learn more in general. 30% went to college in order to get a job and make money. Today, those percentages have swapped. Students nowadays hate the education system and learning, but force themselves through it in order to get a job. And what’s worse, most people I know feel like graduate school is also now a must. 

Recently I went to a seminar about Extrinsic and Intrinsic Motivation. In a nutshell, intrinsic motivation is your desire to do something simply because it’s fun or enjoyable. You want to do it. Extrinsic motivation is composed of all the factors that aren’t intrinsic motivation. It’s split up into several more categories, but it boils down to fear. Fear of disappointing your parents or yourself, fear of not having money, fear of not finding that one special thing you’re supposed to be good at. When there is a large gap between your intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, you are simply miserable. Not only is that math degree not fun at all, you’re being driven to complete it only because you are afraid you won’t have money without it. Being driven by extrinsic motivation only is correlated with low GPAs and other self-hinderances.

There is hope though! If you can realize that what you are doing, although not in and of itself a great joy-bringer to you, is useful to you in the big picture, you can maintain the drive to excel.

I love this topic of motivation! I will be coming back to it often on here, I hope!


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