Don’t Just Think, Think Outside the Box

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August 4th, 2010

College is a great place to learn new things and expand your understanding of the world. Of course, it’s also a great place to get creative and start thinking of new and exciting ways to look at the world. Students shouldn’t just push themselves to get good grades but to look for new ways to solve problems and to address age old issues, and creativity isn’t something that college can necessarily teach you or is always set up to reward. It is, however, a skill that will make you stand out as a thinker and as a potential hire for businesses when you graduate.

Many critics of the current higher education system feel that it can stifle creativity. It some ways this might be true, but it doesn’t have to. Students with truly great ideas, and the confidence to back them up, can still find recognition and encouragement to make something out of these thoughts. Use the things you learn in your courses as a road map to understanding the world, but realize that these facts are only a small set of potential things that could and might exist. There’s always more than one way to look at something or get something done, it just takes one person to figure out how to do it.

How can you be more creative in your classes? First, consider the way you’re addressing the assignments and problems you’ve been given. If you feel like it’s ground that has already been well-covered, why not try looking at the issue from a different point of view? If you’re working in engineering think about what innovations could be possible that would solve consumer needs and issues. If you’re working in the humanities, consider history through a different lens and challenge preconceived ideas about the world. After all, some ideas that have been held true for centuries have been proven to be very wrong because someone pushed for further study.

One great way to help yourself not only learn more but learn how to think in a different way is to take a course that’s completely out of your field of study. You might be surprised at how difficult you find it at first to think about solving problems in a completely different way. After a semester, you’ll have an enormous amount of perspective that you can apply to your own field and that can help you come up with ideas that are new and different from those of your peers.

However you decide to do it, embrace your creativity while you’re in college, even if you don’t feel that your professors or others around you love it. Some of the greatest businesspeople and thinkers have faced some tough opposition when it came to their creative ideas, so keep working, keep learning and always think to the beat of your own drummer.

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