Why Study? – Non-Material Rewards

Lest the foregoing give too much attention to material things, we should consider the intangibles. It is not easy to measure happiness, and there are some glaring exceptions to any generality which implies that intelligent people are naturally happier. Perhaps the clue is simply that people who have the talent and determination to go through a four-year course of education in college are people who would, on the average, show a higher “happiness index” anyway! However, in the long-range view, there is something definitely valuable gained through formal education, besides the sheer momentum and know-how of continuing to educate oneself.

For one thing, by studying the sciences and arts, and the many special subdivisions of human knowledge in the other colleges that exist, people get a broader view of what the world is all about. They know where mankind obtained its traditions. They understand the problems of the day more than from just reading newspapers. They gain a deeper comprehension of the conditions of their life, and the conditions of life elsewhere in today’s world. They understand themselves and their capabilities, and how they and others fit into the ever-changing scheme of things.

A fine education is accessible to non-college people, of course. There are many thousands of non-college people who are much better at their jobs and better adjusted to life than many college people! A truly educated person realizes this. But by taking large groups of people and comparing their life adjustment, it appears that the formal educational experience compresses much more into a short period of time and does so at a time when adjustment problems are very acute and comprehension and solution of these problems is very valuable. This makes the difference.

One professor tells his students that the correct spelling of happiness is A-D-J-U-S-T-M-E-N-T. If the ability to adjust to a changing world – and giving one’s children in their turn the best possible chance by creating an intellectual environment for the years ahead – can be counted as a reward for studying, then you may now have awakened to an incentive that was lacking before you read this book. This is what education is all about.

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