Is Life a Job Training Program?

by Lauren Schoen ’20

College is not a job training program. Classes are not professional development. The clubs you join are not lines on a résumé.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. I’m sure most of us can picture the same thing: the kindergarten teacher asking “what do you want to be when you grow up?” and then having to draw our future selves in a spacesuit, in a soccer jersey, in a coat with lab goggles. We learn that who we will become is a job title.

In my macroeconomics class with Professor Michael Kuehlwein (highly recommended!), we learned that the current unemployment rate for college graduates is 2.2%, half the current overall unemployment rate of 4.4%. The conclusion to draw from this is clear: go to college to be more employable. But we do not come here just to continue along the supply chain and be pumped out as bright, shiny, and employable.

We come here to learn about the world and about ourselves. To learn to raise our own voices and to give a voice to others. As the Pomona College gates on 6th Street. say, we come here “to bear [our] added riches in trust for all,” not to algorithmically select the courses that will best prepare us for a future profession.

So take that class that won’t count towards your major. If you come in as a first-year thinking you’ll be an economics major, but you feel a “pull” towards an interesting anthropology class, listen to your gut. If you come in SURE you’ll be a neuroscience major (like me), and then realize that you feel a tug in another direction (also like me), that’s okay. Drop that STEM class you don’t truly want to take anymore. Take that painting class, ethics class, or politics course another semester instead. Learn who you are, not just what you will become.

  • Inspired by Hank Green’s YouTube video “Life is not a job training program.”