My mother passed along this article that was recently published in the Deseret News. The opening paragraph:
The single most important thing you can learn in school is how to learn when you get out of school. Why? Because once you leave school and its structured learning environment, learning for the rest of your life will overwhelmingly be based on your ability to learn on your own — without a teacher, without a classroom and without a curriculum. It will be informal learning, and it will be up to you.
I tend to agree. As the world becomes increasingly more globalized and interconnected, the ultimate educational objective of college should be to teach you “how to learn when you get out of school”.
I also think that the primary benefit of graduate school is to learn how to critically evaluate what you are learning. In graduate school, knowledge is often presented as: “This is the best explanation that we’ve come up with so far, and this is how we arrived at these explanations. We could very well be wrong. We invite you to join in trying to produce better explanations than what we already have!”
Even if you happen to be getting a graduate degree with very little practical employment potential (e.g. American folklore), learning to critically evaluate information has extremely valuable intrinsic worth all of its own.