Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Academically Adrift

Commenting on links in Facebook can be invigorating, but can then feel like a wasted effort that will soon fade away into the wave after wave of information posted there... So I'll post it here!

A Lack of Rigor Leaves Students 'Adrift' In College

It's clear to me, after 7 years of higher ed, three of which involved working full time administratively assisting graduate students, that college is not for everyone. Graduate school is not for everyone.

But America doesn't understand this. Parents don't understand this.

College is so many things all at once — as much as it's a classroom education, it's (usually) moving out of your parents' house, moving out of your hometown, setting your own schedules, buying and making your own meals, making new friends, exposing yourself to new activities. If the drive to learn how to think, how to process information, how to manipulate information, and how to see through information manipulation — if that drive is weaker in a person than the drive to alter physical states with drugs and alcohol, to try out new foods, music, clothes, parties, attitudes, images, etc., etc., then college is nothing more than a four-year or longer postponement of entering the 9-to-5 grind.

There are so many other factors involved — sense of entitlement, sordid state of financial practices (predatory student loans! healthcare!), sordid state of payment for graduate students (overworked! underpaid!) — that I'd be very, very surprised if more than half the student population DID learn how to think, reason, and write. (I'd venture to say that every instructor I've had took for granted that every student in the class could write properly. Wasn't a problem for me. Was for others.)

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