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COLUMN: Own your education


Published: Thursday, January 31, 2013

Updated: Thursday, January 31, 2013 13:01


“You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink; you can put a man through school but you cannot make teach him to think.”

I have spent twelve semesters here at Utah State, and if I could do it again, I would have taken advantage of some of the opportunities that are readily available. The advice I give to my sister, my friends, and my peers is, “Own your education!” There is much more to getting an education than just going to class. Especially if you are a freshman, sophomore, or junior I implore you, as one student to another, seize the opportunities here.

As a new student here I was vastly unaware of the importance of these non-classroom activities. My impression was that I just needed to show up to class and eventually I would graduate. I went from home to school to work. Some wiser individuals showed me that classes are only half of the experience here. In fact, five years out, we probably will not remember much of anything we learned in the classroom. Can you name five things you learned in a class you took even last semester? I certainly cannot.

I had an epiphany one day when I was stressing about a time-consuming assignment. “The professor already knows all the stuff I am writing, so why am I even doing this assignment?” I thought. It was then that I realized that the professor had not given the assignment for herself. She had assigned it for me! The assignment was designed to help me learn the material. It would not impact her if I turned in the assignment or not. I started doing the assignment to learn the material and not just for the grade.

From that point on, I began to think less about grades and more about learning. Employers don’t care about your grade. They do care about the kind of person that you are. Employers do not care about the mindless facts you memorize in college. They care about your ability to think. Being able to critically analyze a problem is the real reason they hire you. They want us to have an education, not just a degree.

Are you a sophomore or junior that just goes from class to work to home? If so, you are missing the best part of your education. A diploma is just an expensive piece of paper if we do not have the experiences to back it up. There are hidden gems of opportunity here that I implore you to explore. These programs are really what make our education better than those who attend Harvard or Stanford. Check out for fantastic business school opportunities. Consider a paid SEED internship in Africa. For just a little bit more money, you can take your required business classes during the summer as part of the Go Global Study Abroad. Are you unsure what you want to do with your major? Actual students started the Career Exploration trips to NYC and Washington D.C. to answer that question. Now the program has expanded to Seattle, Chicago, and Salt Lake.

From internships to scholarships to attending Dean’s Convocations and school events, there is so much more to your education than just class. You really are missing out if you do not take advantage of clubs and organizations on campus. If you have any questions or want more information on Business programs, email me at I would love to help you take ownership of your education.


Jeff Parker is the academic senator for the Huntsman School of Business.

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