The Five W’s – College Edition

Four years ago I wrote a blog post about returning from researching some boarding schools in Canada for our son who had expressed an interest in taking a different path in his education journey. This summer he graduated from Trinity College School in Port Hope, Ontario. Three weeks ago he started his college career, studying economics at Northeastern University in Boston, MA, with his first semester actually being spent in Berlin, Germany.  Yeah, I’m proud of him.


In this blog ‘off to college’ post I won’t offer the same type of advice as I did for high school. I’m going try to give a simple piece of advice taken from a journalism class some three decades ago and repurpose it to encourage Ryan to embrace life time learning.

Ask the following five questions; Who, What, When, Where, and Why.

My encouragement for Ryan is not to just ‘be’ in class or ‘go’ to the school. Ask questions.

  • Ask, who. Who built that building, who does that monument memorialize, who designed that landmark?
  • Ask, what.  What is the purpose of that, what is the author trying to express, what was the history behind an event?
  • Ask, when. When was that built, when did that happen, when did those beliefs change, when did that conflict start?
  • Ask, where. Where did that artifact come from, where is the library (lol)?
  • Ask, why. Why did that revolution start, why did that school of thought emerge?

Its OK also to ask, how. How am I doing? How do I complete this project? How do I manage my time?

The five W’s (and ‘how’) are invaluable in building a news story.  Hopefully they will also help write a successful college career, and beyond that, a life of enquiry.

I live in the Cayman Islands and I'm married to Christina. We have two incredible children, Ryan, attending Northeastern University in Boston, MA, and Taylor, attending Trinity College School, in Port Hope, Ontario, Canada. I own several businesses in Cayman. My list of 'pasts' include past chairman of the Cayman Islands Special Economic Zone Authority, past president of the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman, and past president of the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce.

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