@BigT is right. The number one most important thing I learned in college was that I should question and critically examine every belief I held. Nobody told me to be more liberal*. Nobody forced me to be open minded. If I wanted to, the same bubble I grew up in was waiting for me with open arms.
What mattered far more was being exposed to a huge array of beliefs and philosophies. The more I learned, the more holes I could poke in other beliefs. But there was some small part of me that refused to reexamine certainl ideas I truly held dear (like religion, for example).
In fact, I managed to keep myself from changing much at all until shortly after graduation. I still remember the moment when everything changed. I was talking to someone whose opinion about Judaism I really respected when someone else asked them some nitpick question about their belief - nothing major, the sort of thing I’d rationalized away a thousand times before.
But their answer gave me pause. They were far more honest than I’d ever been with myself, up till that point: “I don’t think about those things too hard, because they challenge my belief, but my belief is very important to me.”
I just couldn’t handle that anymore. I couldn’t handle lying to myself, brushing over the mental hurdle of aligning a belief in God with an understanding of science, evolution, and history. I couldn’t simply brush aside philosophical questions like the problem of evil that had bothered me until then with a simple “well, it’s beyond my comprehension, I’m not going to worry about it”. It took a while to fully absorb this lesson (and I’m still learning it today), but I realized that I couldn’t respect a belief that hadn’t been questioned and challenged but stood up to scrutiny.
Conservatives may think of it as liberal brainwashing, but they couldn’t be further from the truth. Higher education gave me the tools to critically examine my beliefs and removed my fear of doing so, but it didn’t force any beliefs on me. Instead, it allowed me to let ideas compete freely.
The “problem” is, conservative ideas simply didn’t stand up to scrutiny. In the free marketplace of ideas, they lost, hard.
In entry level Econ, you learn that the free market leads to optimal outcomes for both producers and consumers, but you also learn that this is only true under a limited set of circumstances. Perfect information. Total competition. No barriers to entry.
Conservatism relies on an emotional component to their arguments - there is no good argument against LGBTQ rights, so Conservatives rely on their disgust for such “abominations”. There is zero evidence for religious belief, but questioning these beliefs can be very painful emotionally. Actual economic study after study shows that “trickle down economics” does not work, but Conservatism relies on popular support for Reagan to rally behind “Reagonomics”.
Conservative parents can ensure these “emotional tarrifs” keep getting applied when their kid is at home. Not out of malicious intent, but because they love their children, and the idea of them being brainwashed by the Coastal Elites into being a snowflake libtard disturbs them emotionally. So when their kid goes off to college and hopefully learns how to think critically and rationally, when Conservative ideals fail to compete freely, they freak out.
Look at Ben Shapiro. He claims to be a deep thinker. And yet, he has argued something to the effect of, “go to college so you can show people your degree, but don’t actually listen in class because they’re brainwashing you”. How utterly ridiculous! What a small fucking man! If liberal ideas are so ridiculous and easily debunked, why not listen? Afraid that your strong conservative mind will be poisoned by the Libtards’ honeyed words?
And it gets worse. Shapiro’s mantra is, “facts don’t care about your feelings”. Well, how does Shapiro feel about… oh I don’t know, gay marriage? Well, he hates it. Why? Well, he has a religious argument which we can safely ignore (facts don’t care about your feelings either, Ben) but also a so-called secular argument: that a man and a woman is a traditional marriage that produces children!
Ok, but why is that better? Why is tradition better? For thousands of years, people shat outside, in a hole in the ground or into the river they drink from. Is indoor plumbing also going against tradition? No? So where is a RATIONAL argument against gay marriage? Well… there isn’t one. That’s the secret Ben Shapiro doesn’t want you to know. Facts don’t care about YOUR feelings, but his entire philosophy is based around his own feelings.
Conservatives in a nutshell.
*Actually one person did - I had exactly one “leftist” professor in school, teaching an Economics of Poverty class. At the time I rolled my eyes at almost everything she said without really allowing myself to examine what she was saying; in hindsight, I was a bloody idiot. But it didn’t matter - I did my homework, wrote a term paper from a very fiscally conservative perspective, and aced the class. I certainly didn’t become more liberal because of it.
Meanwhile, I also had very conservative teachers. I had a rhetoric/debate professor who had been a speechwriter for Romney. As it happened I took his class during the Obama-Romney debates, and it was fascinating to deep dive into that topic with him. He did not share his beliefs with us though and I didn’t learn he was a Romney speechwriter until later, although he did tell us he worked for either Romney or Obama and we all correctly guessed Romney.