Published on June 27, 2022  
Cyr Taylor
First-Generation College Student Taylor W. Cyr, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor - Philosophy
Howard College of Arts and Sciences

I started college thinking about my degree primarily as a means to an end. My dad had told me about his experiences of watching coworkers advance their careers in ways that he couldn’t due to his lack of a college degree. He emphasized how many opportunities a college degree would open for me without directing me towards any particular course of study.

When it came time to pick a major, I decided to go with what I found most interesting (philosophy), but I still thought about college as merely instrumentally good—as a means to a better career. What I didn’t realize at first, especially as a First Generation student who didn’t grow up hearing about what college would be like, but what was inescapably obvious as I began taking a variety of courses, was how rich the experience of exploring new things would turn out to be, and how valuable for its own sake.

Not only was I free to explore the topics that were fascinating to me, but the process itself was formational for the thinker, and person, I would become. Going to college certainly opens up different career opportunities, but to think of college as a mere steppingstone is to miss out on much that is valuable.