The following is excerpted from my bestselling book "What They Teach You At The Wharton Business School" and has never been published on the internet previously:
Where is the Wharton school? This chapter is one for everybody. This chapter will apply to you even if you're not a "business person." This one is about learning. It's about knowledge. It's about becoming a better person.
Not only did my graduation from the Wharton Business School give me the credit of graduating from the very best business school in the world, but I'm also a graduate of Stuyvesant High School, which is obviously the very best high school in New York, and arguably, the very best high school in America, and therefore, quite possibly the best high school in the world.
That's right folks, I graduated from the best high school in the world! I'm laughing right now, because The Best High School in The World is a very dubious distinction. No one will ever ask you where you went to high school as part of a job interview.
I wasn't trying to impress you with this academic credential, but I was trying to impress something upon you. And that is, after graduating from the best business school and one of the top universities in America, and the best high school in the world, I think I know a thing or two about learning, how to learn, where to learn, why to learn, etc.
And that's what this little discourse is all aboutâ€¦ learning. So the main question for me is where do you learn? Do you learn on your mamma's knee? Do you learn in the schoolyard? Do you learn on the mean streets? Or do you learn in the classroom?
After all, I've attended many of the very finest classrooms in America, if not the world. I've learned a lot of stuff. I really have. In high school I had 95 GPA, and in college I had a 4.0 GPA in my major. I've been a top student for many many, many years of my career as a student, and I graduated from some of the best schools in the country.
So where did I learn? I'll tell you something folks: for the most part, learning does not occur in the classroom. In fact, in order to get in to Stuyvesant High School, I had a tutor, because I was such a lousy student. My parents got me a tutor so that I could pass the entrance exam and get into Stuyvesant High School.
So a lot of learning I did, was right at my kitchen table with the tutor sitting there picking his nose and scratching it off on the under side of his chair. Honestly, that's exactly what happened. But that guy taught me how to do multiplication, division, fractions, English, vocabulary and sentence structure... blah blah blah. He taught me everything that I needed to know to pass that exam and get into Stuyvesant High School.
And if it weren't for that guy, I would not have gotten in. So all that learning I needed did not occur in a classroom, it occurred in my home. Then I wanted to go to the Wharton Business School. I had to get those SAT scores, right? I mean, I scored 1390 on my SATs, when the maximum you could get was 1600.
Not a bad score, top 97th percentile. So how did I do that? Was it because of what I learned in The Best High School In The World, in the classrooms there? No. Once again, the learning took place outside of the classrooms.
They don't teach you how to take the SAT's in high school. So, Saturday mornings, there I was at Stanley Kaplan's up on 56th street learning how to become an expert at the SATs. That's right, I went to PSAT training at Kaplan's, then I went to SAT training at Kaplan's, and I actually had Stanley Kaplan's son, Paul Kaplan, as my teacher, and he used to say, "If I'm talking too fast, then you have to think faster."
That guy was a really smart guy, and a great teacher who taught us everything we needed to know to become masters of the SAT. So did the learning take place in the classroom? No. It happened in the extra classroom, during my extracurricular activities after school.
On Saturday mornings! I remember going uptown on the subway together with my best friend Jackie Ewenstein on Saturday mornings at 9 o'clock in order to get to Kaplan's for our SAT training. She got "Double 760's" on her SATs and went on to graduate from Harvard, Phi Beta Kappa. All my friends went to Harvard! Then I went to college, the Wharton Business School.
Where did the learning take place there? I told you in a previous chapter that one of the biggest lessons I learned at Wharton did not take place in the classroom. It took place in the home of my entrepreneurial management professor, Myles Bass, the greatest professor of all time. And he taught me that everything matters.
Everything, everything. So again, the learning did not take place in the classroom, not even at Wharton. And having said that, let me say this about that - and that would be this: The single most important thing that I ever learned is something that I did learn in class. It was from my professor whose name was Digby Baltzell.
He actually invented the term WASP - White Anglo-Saxon Protestant. He invented that. And in the final chapter of this book, which is entitled: The Most Important Thing I Ever Learned, I'll reveal that single most important thing that I ever learned anywhere from anyone. But to continue with this chapter... I think the clearest way to explain it is this: after you graduate from college and there is no more classroom, does the learning stop? No!
The learning need not and should not ever stop. The learning takes place whenever you open a book, wherever that will be, in high school, college, after college, it's all the same. You don't learn in the class. You learn in the context of the class. Because you're a student of XYZ subject, whatever subject you are studying, you will learn about that subject because the classroom is not the class.
The classroom is just a context of the class. All of these things that I learned from high school, college, and after college, were learned outside the class. I learned them in the palm of my hand, holding that book. Then, especially after college, I learned in the field. I learned from experience.
I learned how to build a whole damn house! Nobody's going to teach you that in college. Nobody's going to teach you that in contractor school. Nobody teaches you that anywhere! You have to learn that from experience. You have to learn by doing.
Most of the learning that you're going to do is going to be for some class that you're taking, and yes it is absolutely essential to show up, attendance absolutely matters, not because you're going to be learning the majority of your stuff that you're going to learn by being in that class - the majority of learning that you're going to do is going to take place outside of the classroom.
It's going to be in your bedroom, in your living room, on a train, waiting for the bus, at the beach, in an airplane, wherever you may be, wherever you may be reading, wherever you may be practicing, wherever you may be experimenting, that's where the learning takes place.
So why even bother going to Wharton? Right? Why bother going to Stuyvesant high school? Well, it's not the place. It is not the place. There are 2 reasons why you should go to Wharton. There are 2 reasons why you should go to Stuyvesant High School, or the best high school or university you can get into. Number 1 is The People.
College is all about socializing, meeting people, making friends, creating a network for yourself of people who understand you, who you understand, who you respect, and who are going places. And Number 2, learning is a state of mind.
More than anything else, it's about having an image of yourself as a Wharton student, as a Stuyvesant High School student, as a Harvard Student and then being that student because that is the picture that you've created for yourself, in your own mind.
ACTION ITEM: Go to Wikipedia or any type of encyclopedia and teach yourself something new. Learn. Transform yourself through the magic of reading and the perspective of being a student.
Clint Arthur is a graduate of the Wharton Business School, a successful entrepreneur with over a decade of experience running his own business, and the bestselling author of "The Last Year Of Your Life," and "What They Teach You At The Wharton Business School." For free training videos on Entrepreneurship, Publicity, or to find out about The Last Year Of Your Life Personal Transformation & Growth Experience, please visit www.ClintArthur.com