As I think about the focus on education and what it means, particularly the value of a college education, I am reminded of the expectations my parents had for me from day one—it was never a question as to whether or not I was going to earn a college degree.

That is my hope for all young people, because in today’s world having a college education is important for getting into the game. In fact, just having your bachelor’s degree is not enough in today’s environment. College graduates these days require a graduate degree in order to be competitive in the marketplace.

College helped me in so many ways: I had to learn to be more responsible to ensure I was in class on time and prepared, manage my social time to assure I did not fall behind in class, determine what courses were best for me and my long-term goals, and how to align myself with positive people who had goals similar to mine.

I learned the world was much broader than my little world. I was blessed to interact with people from other countries and different cultures, and understood that my way of thinking was not right and theirs wrong—it was just different and that made the world a better place. These experiences all helped me to broaden my perspective about life and living and pushed my thinking to help me grow.

I also learned much more about myself during my college days. This is the first time many young people are “on their own” so to speak. It was for me, and I had to learn how to balance that independence for my own success. While I was always disciplined and responsible, there is something about the freedom of being on your own that required me to really focus on that balance. I knew where I wanted to be post-college from a career perspective, so my focus on grades, understanding my coursework, and being prepared was critical, but of course, I had to have a social life.

And finally, the expanded relationships I gained as a result of my college experience—from my college teammates through my college athletic teams to my classmates to my dorm mates—I learned so much from these associations and am a more well-rounded individual as a result. The value of a college of education extends beyond the classroom and coursework learning—one receives both a cultural and social experience and what one learns about one’s self helps to build self-confidence and broadens one’s view of the world.