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Harvard Professor Offers Advice On Getting The Most Out Of College

Phil Pavely
Chatham University
Harvard University Graduate School of Education Professor Dr. Richard Light speaks to students and faculty at Chatham University's convocation ceremony on Sunday.
"You want to learn how to think, not what to think." -Richard Light, Harvard University

For the first time since its founding in 1869, Chatham University welcomed male undergraduates during this year’s convocation ceremony. Harvard University Graduate School of Education Professor Richard Light spoke to students at the event about getting the most out of their college experience.

Light, who wrote the award-winning book "Making the Most Out of College," summarizes his approach to a successful college career with key points that include managing time wisely and thinking systematically about the ultimate goal of a university degree.

“Make an effort, be proactive, screw up your courage,” Light suggests. “Try to get to know one faculty member reasonably well and have that faculty member get to know you reasonably well.”

Light garnered his expertise from years of interviews with hundreds of Harvard students at the end of their freshmen and senior years.  He says toward the end of their college career, they begin asking for advice on living a rich and productive life. 

Over time, Light says he’s noticed students looking for a different type of experience from college.  Rather than having education transform their opinions, they’re looking for ways to form their own in an educated, relevant way.

“I often say to them, ‘so basically my takeaway is you want to learn how to think, not what to think.’ And they smile and say, ‘you got it, Professor Light.’”