Walter Russell Meade on advice for new college students and their parents—if you are on of those, raise your hand.
Good stuff, such as “The real world does not work like school” and “Choosing the right courses is more important than choosing the right school.”
It’s actually a classic defense of liberal-arts education, including science, politics, economics, history, geography.
And this, of course:
Fifth, learn to write well. This paradoxically is going to be more important than ever for the next generation. I can’t tell you how many editors at how many famous magazines have told me over the years that most professors and academics simply cannot write, and bemoan the immense amount of time they must devote to impose some kind of intellectual structure and comprehensible prose on the crabbed drafts they get from, often, fairly well known people.
This will not last. Publications are not going to be able to continue paying editors to spin straw into gold; if you want to have a public voice in the next generation you are going to have to learn to write well. This is a hard skill to acquire, but it can be taught. Most schools don’t do this well; it is expensive and academics generally don’t value clear and attractive prose writing as much as they should. This is important enough that I would recommend you use it as a factor in choosing a college, but for those of you already enrolled, make a point of seeing what your school offers in this area.
A lot of what I do these days is helping people unlearn the bad, formulaic writing that they picked up in graduate school.