You’ve been admitted to a fine institution for higher education and research. Now you’re here, and this is your first day.
Think about how lucky you are. The competition was hard, that’s true. But you don’t even have to pay for the privilege. Your neighbours do that. Your family, the people you meet on the street. We, as a society, decided to provide free college and university education. There is no tuition.
Why do we do that? Why do all of us participate in paying for your education? The answer is simple; it is in our interest. We all benefit; we recognize the significant return on investment. Universities and colleges are powerful instruments to develop our society towards equal rights, social mobility, welfare, financial security and economic growth. They develop our society through knowledge and competence.
Oslo and Akershus University College is a significant contributor. We develop knowledge and we make it available for our national goals, our industry, our health sector, our education sector, other universities, for those who can turn this knowledge into change, into action, into development.
The knowledge we bring to you and thousands of other students, as well as the knowledge we develop through our research, will improve people’s health and wellbeing, will develop new products and create new jobs, will develop international relations, will make it possible to organize and run this society, which is getting increasingly complex. That is why our research groups and study programs in economy, computer science, management, teacher education, nursing, and a long list of other, are so important.
And you are a part of this. You, the students, may be the most important part. You’re not only a receiver of information. You make us focus, you sharpen our thinking, you ask the critical questions, you have another insight and understanding than we have. And you demand substance, you demand relevance, you demand clarity of thought.
But right now, maybe you don’t. Maybe you’re standing in the door, not sure if you want to enter? Hesitating. You can still turn, walk away. For what’s awaiting you inside? You probably don’t know very well, it is a mystery. Maybe you are a bit nervous, maybe you’re really scared. Other students around you seem so confident. And you’re not.
I am also standing at the doorstep. I started in this job a week ago. I am also uncertain and a bit scared. I am not sure what’s expected of me. I am also been tempted to turn away.
But no. We’re not going to do that. You and I will enter this door. We will be brave. At least we will do our best to feel brave. Because we should embrace this opportunity. We shouldn’t do this half-way. It is too important for us. For all of us,
There is a phenomenon called the butterfly effect. Our planet is so amazingly complex, and all the parts have effect on each other in a multitude of ways. The butterfly effect is a consequence of the sensitive dependence on initial conditions. This means that a small change can result in large differences later. Think about a butterfly flapping her wings i Spain causing rain in Oslo several weeks later.
And stretching it we can use the butterfly effect as a metaphor of consequences of decisions in your lives. Every little thing you do these years as a student may have big consequences in ten years, in twenty years. Big consequences. Every little thing you do. Or don’t do. These years decide the rest of your lives.
So I would like to ask you to promise me something: Put your heart into these years. Believe in yourself. Be critical. Be prepared.
But do not only put your heart into the studies. Find a hobby. Be a good friend. Call home. Care for your friends. Go for a run. Go to the movies with a pal. Visit an old relative. Get engaged in what’s important. And ask for help when you need it.