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Knowledge is Never Wasted

Trapped in a Mind-Numbing Class

At some point, everyone has been sitting in a class and thought Why do I need to know that? I am never going to use that fact. It's too late to drop the class, so you spend the rest of the semester in a class that is so boring, your mind goes numb. Just to stay active, your mind begins to create scenarios of when you'll need that information.

  • In the middle of a business meeting, your phone rings. "This is Farmer Brown. What's the formula for determining the size of my silo?" Quickly your mind races through all its files, finds the formula, and saves Farmer Brown from putting too much grain in his silo. You are honored at the next city council meeting.
  • On a camping trip you find a frog larger than the 10 lb. record. You catch him, place him comfortably in the car and proceed to nearest university for verification. On the way, the frog dies. You try CPR and receive a slight pulse. Then you notice he is having difficulty breathing. Using your skills learned to dissect a frog, you make a small slit underneath his throat, and remove the obstruction. Then you proceed to the university for verification of weight and receive the accolades you deserve.
  • At a convention, the speaker is challenged by a disrespectful member of the audience. The speaker writes his theory on the board and proceeds to explain it. He is challenged by another obnoxious attendee. You step up to help the speaker. You begin to diagram the sentence he has on the board and successfully defend the validity of his hypothesis.

True, these are outrages thoughts. So are some of the things we are forced to learn in education. But did the actually learning waste any brain cells? Did you really lose anything by learning these skills?

Learning in and of itself is not wasted. Every day you learn something that is not relevant to your life. Look at the magazines displayed at the checkout line in any supermarket. You will learn who is sleeping with who, what athlete makes the most money, and why the president made a particular statement. These facts don't affect my life any more than learning the periodic table.

The brain is constantly learning because that's what it's programmed to do. We can and do choose what it learns. The more we improve our problem-solving skills, the smaller our problems see.

Problem-solving becomes a very important part of our makeup as we grow into maturity or move up the corporate ladder. Zig Ziglar

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— Zig Ziglar

Justify Your Answer


Higher Education Has Changed

There was a time when every student took the same courses during the first two years of college. They were called the basics and included English, Math, Science, and Social Studies. It didn't matter if you were going to be a doctor, lawyer, teacher, or artist. The first two years consisted of the basics. That changed several years ago. All of the 'basics' began to use language and skills closer to the major. This was brought to my attention when our youngest son entered college. Every class he took was related to his major and through the Computer Science Department. He took Business English, Computer Math, and Computer Science.

Research today revealed that a significant number of degree plans require something other than the 'basics.' Instead of English 101, you might be required to take Technical Writing, Business English, or something else related to your major. The same is true for math and science.

Course requirement is only one change to higher education.Today's programs require longer than the traditional four years to complete. If the major requires an internship, it will take at least one extra semester to complete.

Degree Plans Require Extra Semesters

College Degrees More Demanding

Changing Majors

It is not unusual for a student to be well into their course requirements and decide to change majors. Are the completed courses just lost? A guidance counselor will look at your degree plan and substitute courses when possible. They will help you find the shortest route to your new degree choice. It is time well spent to visit the counselor.

Changing majors might result in an extra semester in college, but if the new degree plan is what you want, do it. However, weigh the consequences. My daughter wanted to change her major the last semester before graduation. I said, "NO WAY." If you are that far into your degree plan, it would be wise to complete it. Then if you want to study another field, explore that option. My daughter did graduate with a degree in Interior Design. Then she enrolled in a program for people with degrees who want to become teachers. It is called Alternative Certification. Now, after ten years of teaching, she is considering doing interior design work. She is glad that I forced her to complete that degree.

If you want to change your major, don't think that it means another 4 years in college. There are alternative programs that can shorten your time. Also, remember there are many careers that require a college degree, but the major is not important.

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Student to Student

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Students Helping Students

Is There Really Wasted Education?

So you've decided to change your major and someone has said, "Well you just wasted a year of education." Did you really? You've gained knowledge during that year. Are you going to leave it in the classroom when you change majors? Of course not. No one can take that knowledge from you. Is there no other place you can use that knowledge? Of course there is.

A friend was obtaining a Bachlor of Science degree, majoring in Elementary Education. She loved drama; so took every class in drama art that she could. Her family had a fit. "Are you going to be an actress? Why are you wasting your time with that? Why are you taking set building? When you are going to be building any sets for plays?" She didn't care what they said. Every elective and every credit not designated was quickly stamped with a drama arts class. Years later, as we taught together, she inherited her grandmother's house. Those "wasted skills" of building sure came in handy as she personally remodeled and updated the house.

Many times I've been involved in a project that created a problem stumping all the team members. Then out of the blue, one team member would know the solution. "How did you know that?" Someone would asked. "I took a class in college." The answer would come back.

Sometimes skills are learned during military service and used years later when needed. Skills or knowledge learned sometimes seems to have been forgotten, until one day some unexpected event requires that talent or expertise. It's as if the ability is hiding deep in the brain and makes its presence know when the need arises.

College Team Nicknames

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. Alabama A & M
    • Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs
    • Crusaders
    • Aggies
  2. Baylor University
    • Buccaneers
    • Bears and Lady Bears
    • Beavers
  3. Duke University
    • Blue Devils
    • Red Saints
    • Rangers
  4. Harvard University
    • Crimson
    • Rangers
    • Statesmen
  5. Johns Hopkins University
    • Cardnals
    • Blue Jays
    • Eagles
  6. Kent State University
    • Owls
    • Courgars
    • Golden Flashes
  7. Michigan State University
    • Tigers
    • Bears
    • Spartans
  8. Texas A & M University
    • Alligators
    • Aggies
    • Arnold
  9. Ohio State University
    • Minutemen
    • Buckeyes
    • Cowboys

Answer Key

  1. Bulldogs and Lady Bulldogs
  2. Bears and Lady Bears
  3. Blue Devils
  4. Crimson
  5. Blue Jays
  6. Golden Flashes
  7. Spartans
  8. Aggies
  9. Buckeyes

How to Decide Whether To Change Majors

How do you decide whether to change your major or not?

  • Understand that no knowledge or skill is ever wasted, so you will not be losing anything to change majors.
  • Look at how far you are into your chosen degree plan. If you are over halfway finished, complete the degree and then return to college for your new degree plan or consider alternate ways to achieve your goal.
  • If you need to obtain a degree in your new career, DO NOT apply for graduation. Once you graduate, most universities will not allow you to enroll in undergraduate courses.
  • You can complete the degree plan for both fields and then graduate. Depending on how many hours are needed, you may or may not graduate with a double major.
  • If you are less than half way through your chosen degree plan, it might be appropriate for you to apply for a change of majors.

This is your decision. You must decide what is best for you. Look at the facts and make your decision based on solid facts. Never make any life changing decision based on emotions.


There is no shame in changing majors during college. However, if you are well into the program, you might decide to complete the degree plan and then switch careers. There might be a shorter, alternate way to achieve what you want to do.

There is no such thing as WASTED EDUCATION. Knowledge is valuable and can be used in different fields or at various times in life. Learn all you can and then pass it on.


Cheryl Rogers from Tampa, FL on September 18, 2014:

Well said. In and out of the classroom, we are learning continually. We never know where it will come useful. It may help us, or somebody else. The tragedy is when we stop exploring, stop growing -- and close our ears when someone tries to instruct us.

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