There is a shifting point in most people’s college experience; a point where one goes from-new to-campus and blindly following the large crowds of also confused freshmen, to being the one who is directing the large crowd to a known destination.
This shift happens for most people at varying times in their college careers. It is defined by a point when you realize that you have knowledge and with that knowledge comes responsibility.
College is a unique environment, like a microcosm of the real world.
But unlike the real world, everything is accelerated in pace because the entire system recycles every four years. In the beginning of your experience you are a follower, a newcomer, being taught a knowledge base to succeed both within and outside the classroom.
Then at some point this shift takes place and you are the leader continuing the system and teaching the next set of newcomers. With this knowledge comes the responsibility of leadership.
It’s an odd feeling when you have the realization that you are not the most clueless person in the room in fact you are the person who is supposed to have answers. But with every question that is answered and every situation that you have knowledge of there is this realization that with more knowledge comes a better understanding of how much you don’t know.
And the largest piece of insight, at least so far, that I have gleamed from this shift is the realization that at no point does anyone have all the answers, just more questions.
All that does come with knowledge is the responsibility. As a person who is now considered to have answers, if the outcome is positive then it reflects well on you but, more importantly, if the outcome is negative, that is your responsibility.
These two things, in my opinion, are the factors that make for an effective leader. One: someone who knows the scope of their understanding, but more importantly the scope of their ignorance. Two: someone who is willing to ultimately take responsibility when the group falls short.
College allows everyone to at least try out a leadership position in some respect, whether it be in sports, academics, clubs, student government or whatever else, and it is from these experiences that we all learn how to function in the real world.
Yes, school is about books and academics and intellectual learning, but there is this whole aspect to it that is about developing other life skills to succeed.
These skills include organizational skills, budgeting skills and leadership skills. No matter what future you have in mind, they are fairly universal.
Carlin is a member of
the class of 2011.