Published Date

June 1, 1945

Resource Type

GI Roundtable Series, Primary Source

From GI Roundtable 34: Shall I Go Back to School? (1945)

Before trying to decide whether to go back to school or not, the soldier should ask himself what he expects to be doing five or ten years from now. A clear idea of what he wants to do and be in the future is most important. Having a definite goal helps to keep the present in its proper place when making a long-range plan.

Some present-day questions which should be consider are: (1) Should you return to the old job? (2) Why do you want more training? (3) Will there be enough jobs? (4) What will your training cost? and (5) What can you do best?

Each man should weigh these issues for himself and make his own decision according to his individual situation. He should try to see how, for his particular future, the answers to these five questions stack up against each other. Let him consider his own problem from all angles and see to it that the pieces of his own particular puzzle fit together.

The question to keep in mind all the time is: What do you want to be doing ten years from now? The best decision is the one that most nearly meets your present needs while at the same time heading you most surely toward your ten-year goal.

What do you learn in school?

The soldier who asks himself whether he should go directly into a job or into a training course will want to know what he can get out of school. How will he benefit from it? Should he study only for a job? Should he learn more about things that interest him in everyday life? These are questions for the soldier to answer before he decides to go to school.

School offers two kinds of instruction: training for a particular kind of job and general education.

Training for a particular kind of job

This may be technical training for skilled employment either in fields such as electricity, carpentry, ‘farming, or auto mechanics, or in some particular branch of these fields as, for example, electrical wiring, radio repair, cabinetmaking, poultry raising, or fender and body work. It may be training in such business specialties as bookkeeping, accounting, operating business machines, stenography, and business or office management. It may be professional training at the college and postgraduate level. This would include types of education which usually require long study. The course in medicine, for instance, may take some eight or nine years of schooling after graduation from, high school. That is more than twice the time spent in the apprenticeship periods of most of the highly skilled crafts. Engineering, teaching, law, and other professional and scientific pursuits require at least four years of college study.

General education

General education, on the other hand, is not primarily de-signed to prepare people for specific jobs, although it may improve a man’s ability to hold a job. It deals with the student not only as a worker, but also as a citizen, a member of social groups, and as an individual with his own needs and interests.

In a democracy all citizens should try to understand and help to solve many social, economic, and political problems of their community and nation. International relations, security in employment and old age, regulation of business by government-all these are changing problems. Many of them will be of vital importance to bur way of life in the postwar period. They will have a direct bearing on the welfare of each individual citizen. In many cases, job opportunities will be directly or indirectly affected by the way these problems are solved. General education can help the individual to make a more useful contribution toward solving them.

General education also helps a man to get along better with other people. It provides him with a richer background for understanding scientific progress, literature, music, the arts and crafts, and so forth. This kind of education, therefore, helps a person prepare for the responsibilities of citizenship and for a many-sided enjoyment of life.

Next section: The School of Life