By: Yoni Mayer  | 

A College Course of Action 

The job or the experience?

The future or the moment?

This personal adage is how I’ve framed my college journey and how I’ve approached the tightrope walk of plotting out my three years at Yeshiva University. The question being: Is college simply a preparatory step and a way station before we’re released into the world at large? A breeding ground for future lawyers, bankers and doctors? Is it a place that educates its student body in the skills necessary for the workplace and leaves it at just that? 

Or is college an oasis before we have to start our professional careers? A three-or-four year opportunity to soak up all the culture, wisdom and extracurriculars we can before we chain ourselves to a nine-to-five job? A forum to interact with and relate to like-minded and differently-minded individuals, experiment with comfort zone-altering experiences and expose ourselves to areas of knowledge we’d never previously considered?

The job or the experience.

The future or the moment.

Do we choose to take classes only because they will prepare us for the workplace, and in so doing, choose the job-oriented perspective of college? Or do we choose the classes which aren’t directly correlated with our career or future, opting instead to dive into the experience of the isolated four years of college and the present moment, indulging in our interests and not looking too far ahead?

I chose the latter option, experiencing college and all it has to offer besides career preparation, and I’m proud of my decision.

I was originally enrolled in Sy Syms School of Business when I came to YU. I knew I wanted to be in the business world but didn’t know what I wanted to do. I figured that the business school would be a good way to figure that out and get exposure to the corporate world. What I learned, however, was that my appetite wasn’t sufficiently whetted by the business classes. Here I was in an institution of higher learning and the classes I was taking all had to do with numbers, graphs and finance. 

So, I spoke with friends and mentors and soon realized that a degree in economics would open the same corporate doors as the actual business school. Plus, my elective classes would be more interesting to me, courses like Art of Film and Stranger Things: The Art of the Unreal; classes that fulfilled my urge to learn more about the world and not just how to navigate the competitive world of business. If I was going to be required to take any classes outside of my major, I’d rather they be classes that I felt a genuine interest in. 

Furthermore, my mentors told me that skills for the workplace are generally learned on the job. So, I thought, why spend four years learning skills which will ultimately be taught in four months? I’d rather spend my time in school learning subjects that interest me, making me a more knowledgeable and cultured person, and further develop my business skills on the job. Additionally, candidates are more appealing to firms if they’re unique; the bulk of the resume is “experiences.” These experiences, the ones I’ve chosen like The TAMID Group or summer internships, can be done from whichever undergraduate school you’re in. If you can speak about more than just finance and accounting and reveal parts of your personality, parts which are supposed to be molded and discovered during your time in college, you’ll be more personable and hirable.

Lastly, once we get to the workplace, our time is, for the most part, spent. For several years, we won’t have opportunities to dive deeply into topics that interest us. College has these classes built into the system. You don’t have to look far to learn about “France and its Others” or “The Art of Film”; you just have to be enrolled in a program and a school which encourages exploration of those disciplines.

I understand my situation is unique; of course there are jobs which require certain classes and courses of study during college (medicine, accounting, etc.). However, the argument still applies broadly to the experience at large and the attitude some people may have to their time here. My suggestion: don’t turn your nose up at events, extracurriculars and programs but indulge in them. Utilize the time in college to expose yourself to opportunities you won’t get later on in life because it is specifically those opportunities, and not your physics and accounting classes, which mold you and become the moments you remember forever. 

So, I pose my question to you:

The job or the experience?

The future or the moment?

Photo Caption: How you design your college experience is highly important, and totally up to you.

Photo Credit: Nathan Dumlao/ Unsplash