Learning How to Learn

Why College is Still Relevant in the Digital Age

“The democratization of information blurred the line between formal and informal learning, but the ability to seek knowledge transcends academia.”

Dane O'Leary
6 min readJan 8, 2024

--

Photo generated using Midjourney with additional artwork by Dane O’Leary.

As we sat there in one of the mismatched booths in the only mom-and-pop diner in town, we debated whether the tone-deaf host was planning on belting Cher’s greatest hits — over the radio that was playing different music, no less — through our entire dining experience.

Then an unexpected declaration redirected the conversation.

“I think I’m going to go to college,” our nearly 14-year-old said with the sheepish, insecure grin of someone admitting to something a little embarrassing.

Given how often his dad — who, mind you, has a college degree of his own — refers to college with words like “pointless” and “obsolete,” I wasn’t expecting this teen who so passionately hates the eighth grade to kick off Sunday brunch by committing to four additional years of school — although I was thrilled to hear it.

Despite having been out of school for over a decade, I regularly discover new applications for not only my college degree but my entire college experience.

I can see how projects I completed while in college prepared me for life as a professional. Even something as seemingly simple as learning how to extract data from a primary source so that data can be structured into a compelling argument has been invaluable.

I can’t help but be a little unsettled by some of the conversations I’ve heard, even in my own home. Is it only because I’m a graduate that I see this declaration to attend college as objectively positive?

While publications insisting that you no longer need a college degree to “land a great job³” are technically correct, some have interpreted this message as meaning that college no longer has value. But a college education has immense value, even beyond majors and minors to consider the college experience as a whole.

Instead of throwing out the baby with the bath water, perhaps we need a new strategy for higher education.

--

--

Dane O'Leary

Designer & Creative Strategist, 10+ Years Building Brands & Digital Experiences | Covers Design, Marketing, Tech, Education, Entertainment & Business