What’s the Point? Finding value in every course

Another complaint about the same professor.

Ron, an InsideTrack coach, used to field a lot of complaints from students in an accounting program who were all taking a particularly tough class. What made the class so hard, they told Ron, was how exacting the professor was. She would mark them down if a comma was in the wrong place, or if a sentence was missing a period.

It’s tough to generalize about today’s college students. But one thing that stands out to Ron is the focus many of them have on making sure every class they take teaches them specific skills they’ll need in their career. That unwavering dedication to future goals is valuable when pursuing academic or career success.

But the job market is changing fast. The career that students plan for may not be the one they stick with. Even within the same field, the skills needed to do a certain job may continually evolve.

When the students told Ron that they didn’t see the point of focusing on grammar in an accounting class, he worked with them on finding value in unexpected places.

“Part of the learning process is being able to capture the things that are most important, and then figure out how they can relate to countless different things,” Ron said.

A particular class may not connect with a particular job skill, but it could contribute to a broader skill set that applies to a range of situations. Even if you don’t see the immediate point of a class, you never know what information tucked away in a corner of your brain may one day become useful.

But above all that, Ron tells his students, taking a class you don’t want to take is valuable because it’s a challenge.

“I personally believe that’s a big piece of learning,” Ron explained. “How do you handle challenge?”

Ron said he would ask his students, “‘Has there been another situation for you where you’ve had a challenge? How did you deal with that? How did you feel after that?’”

Rather than letting their frustration with the professor derail their degree progress, Ron encouraged his students to recognize their strengths and build resilience for any other roadblocks they may face.

“If we’re challenged and we can surmount that challenge, I think we gain a certain amount of confidence. And confidence is critical to success, in anything we do,” Ron said.

Skills like that never stop being useful.

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