Phi Beta Cons

Students Need to See the World

Forward Dennis Prager’s latest column, “On Visiting My Hundredth Country,” to any college student that you know. In this essay, Mr. Prager passionately stresses the benefits of travel and enriching experiences for young people over the insular life of the university:

All this travel has been life-changing and life-enhancing. For many years, I have urged young people to take a year off after high school to work and to take time off while in college to travel abroad, ideally alone for at least some of the time.

Nearly everyone grows up insular. The problem is that vast numbers of people never leave the cloistered world of their childhood. This is as true for those who grow up in Manhattan as those who grow up in Fargo or Tokyo. And as for college, there are few places as insular and cloistered as the university.

Insularity is bad because at the very least, it prevents questioning oneself and thinking through important ideas and convictions. And at worst, it facilitates the groupthink that allows for most great evils.

As someone whose daily classroom experience involves discussing mature topics with inexperienced students, I could not agree more. Credential mania leads students, young and old, to aim to get through college as quickly as possible in order to get on with their life. More students should hit the pause button on their education, get out and experience the world, and bring those experiences back into the classroom. They may even be able to inform some of their professors how precious academic theories play out in the world outside of “the bubble.”  


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