Am I Smarter For Going To A Fancy Pants School, Or Did I Blow A Bunch Of Money For Nothing?

Waiting till the last moment to reflect on my college education, in true Gus McCarthy fashion, I think my time spent at Concordia was worth the extra buck.


I’ve been asked to reflect on the mission of Concordia College by highlighting my experience with the five goals.


  1. Instill a love for learning
  2. Develop foundational skills and transferable intellectual capacities
  3. Develop an understanding of disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and intercultural perspectives and their connections
  4. Cultivate an ethical, physical, cultural, and spiritual self understanding
  5. Encourage responsible participation in the world
Image may contain: 2 peopleThe guy on the left here isn’t the dumbest person in the bunch, but he also has the worst study skills imaginable. He can understand subject matter, but transferring it is impossible, and he has no idea who he is.

I didn’t have many life experiences prior to Concordia. I had invested heavily in my sports career, and I got good but not great grades. Everything ended up changing when I got to Concordia.

Over the next few years I had quite the set of life experiences. I transformed my entire academic self. I changed what I wanted to do with my life, then changed it again. I failed a class. Passed a really hard chemistry class. Travelled Europe. Lost my sister to suicide (that was her on the left with me). I worked as a medic. I got into medical school. And I fell in love.
 I can firmly say that I wouldn’t have been able to do all these things, and deal with the ups and downs without Concordia.
From day one they taught me that enthusiastic learning is the easiest learning. Staying engaged in classes ends up making them more fun. It’s a bit corny (shameless cobber pun), but they really do instill a love for learning. These days I’m excited to hear a lecture about under water basket weaving, and I find myself hopping around on PubMed for interesting articles. I’m not really sure how you can instill a love for learning, but Concordia did it.
One of the things I struggled with early on in my academic career was transferring knowledge between disciplines. Particularly between biology and chemistry. For the longest time I thought the two subjects were completely distinct, but after my time in undergraduate, I have come to find that they blend more than I ever even imagined. My professors taught me how to do that. They always told me to look for the connections in class. If you spent a few minutes, you could find them.
During my Freshman spring semester, I was in a bit of a limbo. I had no idea who I was or what I wanted to do. For some reason I thought a philosophy class sounded fun, so I enrolled in one. That semester I spent a number of hours simply thinking about what would make me happy. I still don’t think I understand myself completely, but getting outside of my science comfort zone pushed me to find myself.
Finally, reflecting on the idea of Becoming Responsibly Engaged in the World (BREW), I think even though the BREWing idea was thrown into our curriculum at any given moment, it’s important to see just how powerful we can be as students. I used to think that I could change the world with a blog or Facebook status, but now I know that real action happens out in the community. Concordia taught me that I can’t sit back and let others take care of everything. It’s up to students and others like myself to stay engaged with our respective communities and shape our reality. This is critically important for scientists like myself today, as we begin to take a more active role in policy making.
My time at Concordia was well worth the extra money. Even though I don’t technically have a control for my college experiment, I really think that I am a better person because of the goals put forth by both the college and my Capstone course.
Hopefully this guy will be a little more prepared for what the world has to throw at him.