College on the Path to Happiness

Marley Justice Honorbound

The Beginning of Junior year is the average time high school students begin thinking about their future and what is coming next, college.  65.9% of high school graduates go onto college where they begin figuring out career paths and what will potentially make them the happiest.[1] In Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle states that happiness is centralized around “the good” and “the good is that at which everything aims”.[2] After thoroughly reading Aristotle’s book, anyone can infer that the good Aristotle speaks about is happiness and happiness is the end. After asking many of my family members what they perceived happiness to be I realized everyone has a different view on it. According the Merriam Webster, happiness is the state of well-being or contentment.[3] For over half of high school graduates college is a stop on the path to happiness, but can man achieve happiness without college?

College is overwhelming for many due to factors such as living on your own, more responsibility, not having your parents there to constantly remind you to do what is needed but mainly because you’re starting your future. What you decide to study in college has big impact on your life after graduation and choosing where you want your life to go at age 18 is a tough decision. You may not have the exact answer, but if you pursue something you enjoy and are skilled at then the money will follow.  “Wealth is evidently not the good of which we are in search, for it is mealy useful as a means to something else.”[4] Making decisions in life based on money and material goods will merely distract or destroy you from the true goal.

Aristotle’s teachings explain that every action in life aims at what the individual thinks is good. Everyone you pass on a daily basis has a different path, yet the same goal of happiness. In order to achieve happiness it is important to have a good moral character, or “complete virtue”. Relating virtue to happiness Aristotle states, “He is happy who lives in accordance with complete virtue and is sufficiently equipped with external goods, not for some chance period but throughout a complete life.”[5] Virtues are important not only because they help us obtain happiness, but because they are the characteristics that make man perform its function well. The connection between virtues and function is crucial because without virtues man has no function. Therefore, training these virtues early on in college could benefit you after graduation when you’re searching for a job. It is not as easy as it sounds though, college is full of distractions so you must remain diligent and continually remind yourself how this is on your journey to happiness. College provides you a degree of knowledge from which you can use virtues, your function, and a moderation of external objects to assist you in reaching happiness.



[1] Norris, Floyd. “Fewer U.S. Graduates Opt for College After High School.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 2014. Web. 03May 2016.

[2] Aristotle, and Joe Sachs. 2002. Nicomachean ethics. Newbury, MA: Focus Pub./R. Pullins.

[3] “Happiness Definition.” Merriam-Webster. Accessed December 03, 2016.

[4] Aristotle, and Joe Sachs. 2002. Nicomachean ethics. Newbury, MA: Focus Pub./R. Pullins.

[5] Aristotle, and Joe Sachs. 2002. Nicomachean ethics. Newbury, MA: Focus Pub./R. Pullins.

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