Learning as a Foundation for Experience

December 14th, 2007  |  Published in Preparedness  |  1 Comment

Welcome to Above Yourself, a blog about self-improvement and faith. If you're new here, you may want to subscribe in a reader or subscribe by email. Many of the topics here are related to my faith in Jesus Christ and Mormonism, but all are welcome to share their own beliefs. Thanks for visiting!

My personal background is in the ever-changing field of technology, but I don’t think I gained most of my skills from college courses. Does that mean I regret going to college? Definitely not. I view my experience there as a foundation for everything I have done since then. It’s more about learning how to learn - developing good habits that will lead you on a path that you can use to take advantage of the future experience that you will have.

A friend once asked me for advice to give to her younger brother, who wanted to go directly to work after high school because he thought he could make more money that way. He was a computer guy, so he cited examples like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Michael Dell as rich computer billionaires who didn’t have college degrees.

I’ve thought about that question a lot since then. Why should anyone go to college? I think it’s more fundamental than just getting a degree- it’s about learning how to learn, developing the habits that can lead you to be more successful and live a meaningful life. Education unlocks the potential of experience because it provides a foundation upon which that experience is organized and built. It teaches problem-solving skills that can later be applied to larger decisions. My professors at college realized this, and they said that part of the reason they would even teach technology skills in such a structured environment with regular assignments and lessons was so that we could just pick up a manual in the future to learn how to use a technology.

Our current prophet Gordon B. Hinckley has always stressed the importance of education. A recent article in the New Era gives a lot of insight into the importance of education:

You have the potential to become anything to which you set your mind. You have a mind and a body and a spirit. With these three working together, you can walk the high road that leads to achievement and happiness. But this will require effort and sacrifice and faith.

You must get all of the education that you possibly can. Life has become so complex and competitive. You cannot assume that you have entitlements due you. You will be expected to put forth great effort and to use your best talents to make your way to the most wonderful future of which you are capable. Sacrifice a car; sacrifice anything that is needed to be sacrificed to qualify yourselves to do the work of the world. That world will in large measure pay you what it thinks you are worth, and your worth will increase as you gain education and proficiency in your chosen field.

You have a mandate from the Lord to educate your minds and your hearts and your hands. The Lord has said, “Teach ye diligently … of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms—that ye may be prepared in all things” (D&C 88:78–80).

Gordon B. Hinckley, “Words of the Prophet: Seek Learning,”
New Era, Sep 2007, 2–5

Education helps us use our experience for good. I am extremely grateful for the chance I had to go to college, and I echo President Hinckley’s words: “sacrifice anything that is needed to be sacrificed to qualify yourselves to do the work of the world.” I have had many personal examples of people who have taken this advice to heart, and their lives have been greatly blessed for it.


  1. Beth says:

    December 14th, 2007 at 4:43 pm (#)

    I wholeheartedly agree. When I graduated, I didn’t really have any intention of “using my degree” — I didn’t want to teach and preferred to stay home with my kids, anyway. But that formal training proved very useful in a very unexpected way when I was asked to teach seminary! I found myself continually looking back to things I had learned in college to make things fresh for the kids and to give me perspective when things got hard.
    Even if I hadn’t had that experience, though, I wouldn’t regret my time at college — it taught me how to learn and how to discipline myself and work hard … and gave me so much self-confidence.

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