I just turned thirty-eight and there is a fair amount in my life that hasn't gone according to plan.
But today I was reading a review of an collection of Tony Judt's essays, written while he was immobilized by ALS and one theme mentioned—and that I have read in Judt's essays, myself—is his appreciation for the place of King's College Cambridge in his life and the opportunity he had as a lower-middle-class Jewish boy to go and study with the elite of the England of the early 60s.
Now, I'm not Oxbridge educated, nor did I attend even one of the Ivies, but I did get a very fine undergraduate education at the University of Notre Dame, very fine for a working-class Hoosier boy, just a few generations removed from the farm. And, almost every day there is some thing discussed or read or touched upon in one of my classes, often classes that were not in my major or particularly useful in any straightforward way, that comes back to me, as grist for my reflective mill.
And, then I think how lucky I was, and I wonder what students who constantly ask what they will ever use some concept or technique for are really getting out of their college or university experience. Or, am I just an old romantic about what an education can be?