The Social Impact of Education

Kyle Reed // @kylereed

This is a guest post from Brad Blackman. It is a response to a post I (Kyle Reed) wrote a couple of weeks ago. If you would like to guest post on Standing On Giants you can do so by going here. Check out Brad on twitter here and his design skills here

A while back, Kyle Reed posed an interesting question on his blog: Would you encourage your kids to not go to college? It sparked quite a bit of discussion, as you might imagine. (You can read the comments here)

Like Kyle, I see several sides to the issue: it’s expensive, you may not directly use the degree you get, and you can learn a lot of the same things on your own time via the magic of the Internet. On the other hand, the college experience brings insight and feedback you get from peers and professors that you don’t get anywhere else.

Yet one thing that I don’t think anybody touched on in the blog post or in the comments was the social aspects of going to college.

I’ve noticed that we tend to hang out with people with similar educational backgrounds, be they simply college-educated or not, or even similar schools. And when we are around people who don’t have the same level of education, it adds a subtle layer of social awkwardness. I guess this is Sociology 101: we associate with people of like backgrounds and beliefs.

A while back I was at a social gathering at someone’s house, and there was something odd about the situation that I couldn’t put my finger on. I mentioned it to my wife, and she agreed. Eventually we decided it had something to do with the way the people who hadn’t gone to school outnumbered those of us who had. Which felt odd, since these people were no less intelligent than we were. Granted, I think the situation was more complicated than that (I think there were family tensions we didn’t know about) but I can’t help but think that education is a factor.

Campus life is a microcosm of the world.

There’s a different kind of etiquette at play in college (and it’s different from one college to another) than there is in the rest of the world.

Also, people who live off-campus have a different view of things and probably feel like outsiders. (I never lived off-campus, so I can’t speak to that.)

Maybe it has something to do with the critical thinking and communication skills developed in college? Surely that has some bearing on how one carries oneself in social interactions. It certainly leads to a better vocabulary.

So with this in mind, I think I’d definitely encourage my children to go to college somewhere, even if not right away. And I already do encourage them to read (and eventually write). (We’ve caught our two-year-old daughter sitting up in bed “reading” an hour past her bedtime.)

So maybe it’s not so much the education that’s important, but everything surrounding it.


So what’s been your experience on the impact education has on social situations?


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Kyle Reed

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I create websites, conversations, and ideas. Advocate for the 20 somethings. Looking to connect everyone to a mentor. Married to my best friend, Ginny. I like my coffee black and my dog Jack. I currently live in Nashville and work at Sony Music/Provident in Nashville
  • Anonymous

    Yeah Brad I agree. I didn’t go to college until I was married with kids. Now my 2 oldest have finished and in last year, and their greatest experiences and some of their best learning was in the context of college, but not the classroom. 

    Good point!

    • @kylereed

      key word there, in the college context not the classroom :)

      • Brad Blackman

        Yep. I think that is the key factor. A lot of people expect to get everything from the classroom, but the real learning is outside of the classroom. College is just an incubator in a lot of respects. I’m not dissing classes, since if you really want to learn you can. But there’s so much more to it than classroom learning, and I think college can really jumpstart a lot of things. That said, it’s not for everybody, and maturity definitely has a huge role to play.

  • Blake Thompson

    I wonder about the same differences between home school kids and “regular school” kids can be noticed. 

    • @kylereed

      great thought. I know there is a difference, but I also know people who homeschool their kids and you would never know it. 

  • Jeff Goins

    Good point. I matured the most while in college. It was great for my social life and personal development. The question is, can you get this elsewhere without going $80,000 into debt? I think you can. You just have to be intentional.

    • @kylereed

      sounds like a follow up blog post is needed on that…getting it elsewhere without dropping 80K

      • Jeff Goins

        right. indeed!

      • Brad Blackman

        A follow-up to the follow-up. I like it! :)

  • Anonymous

    Great observation Brad! The diversity of culture, opinions and beliefs I found during my undergrad days helped solidify and challenge my own personal beliefs. Regardless, the positives far outweighed the negatives.  

    @Kyle, thanks for sharing your forum! 

    • @kylereed

      agreed, positives do outweigh the negatives.