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Rethinking College: Why go? How? When?

If the recent pandemic has taught us anything, it is that the unexpected is to be expected. While certainly not always easy, we have also perhaps learned that the unexpected can be an invitation for adventure, if only we have the eyes to see it as such. Indeed, for many students around the country, the unexpected pandemic was a spur to the adventure of a gap year–or two.

Now, as many of our students will begin–or perhaps return–to college in the coming months, it is fitting that we revisit an old podcast, originally published in 2018, on life after high school.

In this episode, we sit down with Arthur Brooks, formerly the president of the American Enterprise Institute and currently a professor both at Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School, for a conversation about college and whether it is the right next step for every prep school graduate.  In the episode, Dr. Brooks:

  1. Challenges the assumption that every prep school grad should attend college right away at any cost.
  2. Offers fantastic insights about the entire college experience–from college choice, to choice of majors, to engagement with students and faculty who think differently.
  3. Provides helpful guidance to families, as they prudentially discern what is best for each of their children. 

Now is a perfect time for us–parents, teachers, and students alike–to think more deeply about what college is for; and, indeed, what life is for. In this way, if college is in our son’s path, he may thus make the most of his education. And regardless of if college is in his path, he will thus know that this life is best spent refreshing the souls of others and glorifying God in his daily work.

Show Highlights

  • Arthur’s story and what we can learn from his non-conventional path
  • What is really needed to succeed: hard work and personal responsibility
  • Should everyone study the liberal arts?
  • Is the value of college purely economic?
  • Why all colleges are not equal
  • Busting the myth that college is for everyone
  • What are prep schools preparing students for?
  • The dangers of identity politics in education
  • Seven rules for highly effective college students
  • Why you should go where you are not welcomed
  • How to be on missions, whether on a college campus or in the working world
  • Dissolving the stigma around not going to college

Suggested Reading

The Conservative Heart

Gross National Happiness


The Art of Happiness

About the Guest

Arthur Brooks

Arthur C. Brooks is the Parker Gilbert Montgomery Professor of the Practice of Public and Nonprofit Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School, and Professor of Management Practice at the Harvard Business School, where he teaches courses on leadership, happiness, and social entrepreneurship.

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