It’s interesting to realize the true importance, and pleasure of education. However, it seems as if education only becomes pleasurable once you have reached the second half of your life.
Students who attend College right after High school concern themselves mostly with partying, drinking, sleeping, and all the pleasures that come with youth. None of these experiences involve a true willingness to learn, and along with that, a willingness to devote themselves to their collegiate experience wholeheartedly. There are those vast exceptions where people are blessed with the uncanny ability to focus and absorb information in over abundant amounts. In high school you referred to these people as the “brains;” the people you measures your academic success up to every day. These very special blessed people are few and far between, and therefore not likely to be seen in most college freshman classes.
There’s a misconception that college is useful for teens to develop their own identities apart from that of their parents. This very well may be a useful aspect. However, the same thing can occur if say the student decided to travel around the world before attending college or something equally engaging and therefore enviable on my part. Why is there a need to attend college right after high school? College will never go anywhere, and the willingness to learn will only become stronger. Most people who enter college right after high school have no real willingness to learn and therefore gain no benefits from attending college at that moment in their lives.
An observation of a class consisting of half 18-20 year olds and half 30 and over adults reveals that the group that is most engaged in what is being taught are those who have the ability to concentrate on such matters; the 30 and over adults. They have passed the point in their lives where they feel the need to “discover themselves.” They don’t need to drink obsessively. They don’t feel the need to sleep all hours of the day. Most importantly. They come into the learning process already knowing what they want to do, not just simply floating aimlessly from course to course waiting for something to strike their fancies. They have an aim, be it for a specific degree, or just for pleasure. The point being, they are all about business. They hand in their assignments completed and on time, and they do all of their readings. The young 18-20 year olds see no particular importance in attending all classes and completing all assignments. They have no motivation. Which is more ideal? (especially when considering the insane cost of attending college) non committed kids fresh out of high school, or experiences adults with an eagerness to learn? The latter seems more optimal.
Therefore, college should be solely reserved for these individuals over the age of 25 who have already sewn their so-called “wild oats,” and can therefor benefit from a college training. Unfortunately, this is not possible simply because of the fact that it is unrealistic to think that you can really make a life for yourself without a college degree. You can live for awhile without it, but how happy will you be in the long run if you are not living to your full potential. The point being, now matter what age you are, there is a certain amount of importance that once should place on education. Older, more established people have more of an ability to place an emphasis on education above everything else. Therefore, until you are mature and advanced enough to prioritize education over partying, then you shouldn’t be in college.
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10.2.03 @ 8:21p
Wow Alicia, you throw out some gross generalizations here. I have to totally disagree that "Most people who enter college right after high school have no real willingness to learn and therefore gain no benefits from attending college at that moment in their lives."
I went to college right out of high school. I never switched majors. Yes, I did my fair share of partying, but I also ended up with a 3.00 GPA.
What I think you're missing is that if people waited 7 years after they graduated HS, you'd forget tons of things like math and history, not to mention study habits. Plus, 7 years out of high school and 7 years into a career the liklihood of someone wanting to uproot all that, quit their job, etc, is fairly low.
Just because an 18 year old won't get out of college what a 35 year old would get from college doesn't mean it's a waste of time or money.
10.2.03 @ 8:57p
dont you agree that a person should get the most out of an education...especially if it costs $40,000 a year? I dont agree that drinking all the time it getting the most out of an education.
10.2.03 @ 9:13p
Every life experience, whether it is drinking yourself stupid, or sitting quietly in a dorm studying has a value to the person doing the experiencing. Learning is a continuing process throughout life, be it in a classroom setting or not.
I went to college straight out of high school, dropped out, went to work, went back to college, dropped out again for financial reasons, went to work again, and then went back to college. I got what I wanted out of education.
You forget, in order to get a career going you have to have some education, even a couple years of college under your belt. Unless everyone under 25 can remember to ask "do you want fries with that?" they are not going to get a job that would pay enough for them to pay for their college education.
Thanks to the current economy, they aren't going to get a job like that after college either. I always reccommend Vo-Tech instead of high school. Learn a real skill that will pay the bills. I wish I had done that rather than college prep courses.
I agree, education is what you make of it, but so is your life, with or without education. The individual, from the time they have cognitive thought, really is in charge of their decision making. Having parents telling them what to do doesn't always work, and the choice at that point is rebel or go along for the ride without rebellion.
Ultimately, we all have to live with our choices. Just because it seems like a waste for 18-24 year olds to be partying instead of studying doesn't mean that their partying is a waste. They can be storing up life experiences to retell in a film format in 20 years. Their memories will provide an accurate portrait of an era.
Everything has a use, if you look for it.
10.2.03 @ 9:49p
You know, Robert, I often wondered, as English major, whether I should have learned carpentry or plumbing instead.
10.2.03 @ 9:49p
But who are we to say what someone gets out of college?
Maybe all that partying develops social skills that get them business contacts in the real world - as a freelancer I've gotten plenty of job interviews just because I knew someone who went to the same college I did.
Maybe the realization of "Holy shit, I slept too much and got a .075 GPA this term" is a good lesson to learn freshman year instead of "Holy shit, I slept too much and missed my shift at the hospital."
Maybe instead of graduating high school and taking a job at the local Wal-Mart for 7 years before college, going to a university will open their eyes to different types of people, different cultures and different subjects they may never have thought about otherwise. And that 4 years in college will help them decide exactly what they want to do.
10.2.03 @ 9:55p
Actually, I just thought of a great example. My best friend, Eric, wanted to be an architect. So out of high school his mother got him a low-level job with the city. He wasn't planning on going to college. He stayed in the same small town we grew up in. He had the same friends. He did the same thing.
A year later, I convinced him he should come to the University of Oregon with me. While there, he developed a love for languages (and now speaks 4), he became very environmentally aware (something that never happened in our town), spent semesters abroad in Central America and Europe, and is now a romance languages teacher at a college in Portland, OR.
If he had to wait until he was 25 to go to school? He'd still be in our small town making $35,000 a year as a mid-level city planner, wouldn't speak any other languages, and probably wouldn't have travelled at all.
10.2.03 @ 10:54p
I will be the first to admit that I did not get the most out of my college education. I was much like the younger students Alicia describes here. Now, at 38, I'd love to go back to school and put my life skills toward earning a degree - the old adage "if I knew then what I know now" applies.
All that said, I agree with Matt - you've got an awful lot of generalizing going on here.
10.2.03 @ 10:57p
I think it totally depends on the individual, and how parents have taught their children to appreciate what they are receiving.
Individuals who had to work a little to "earn" college often have better discipline than those who have every single thing paid for - school, board, books, spending money, a nice car, frat/sor dues, etc. When you've paid for it or some of it yourself, or earned a scholarship/grant, or have to work during school for your spending money, you may still go blow a paycheck on partying for the weekend, but you also know where that paycheck comes from, and you know if you blow school, there are consequences.
Now, some parents believe that they have to give their kids "everything", when in reality, they are building a completely different and unrealistic set of expectations.
I waited a semester and started at spring term after high school, mainly because I was waiting on grants to come through. I worked my ass off during the 1st semester, and was SO ready to go to college when the time came. There was never a question that I would go to college, but paying for it took a little patience. Therefore, I was more eager than most. I also had to work all through college to support myself, and frankly, there's nothing wrong with that. I remember still having quite a fun time in the process. Did I skip a few classes? Oh sure. But it wasn't because I was lazy or stupid - I was tired as hell.
But I still didn't graduate. I had marvelous work opportunities in an industry where a college degree didn't matter, and when the time was right, I took those and ran. Do I regret that decision? No, because I've continued to learn and evolve as I go and know as an adult, I can get a degree whenever I want.
But I wish I would have taken a year to travel before college, just because you rarely have such a time when you're free of responsibilities and able to explore with abandon.
10.2.03 @ 11:03p
You know, speaking as somebody who went to college even before I was finished with high school and spent a good deal of college discovering all of the illegal and imoral things I could do with my body, and thus failing out of college -- twice?
Best damn thing that ever happened to me.
Nothing kicked my ass into gear more than that. I am more successful today because I learned that lesson at college: that you actually have to work to succeed.
Don't think that everything you're learning in undergrad is in the classroom -- it's a sheltered environment for kids to live away from their parents for the first time. They can have their own space and make their own decisions -- to a point -- and still have help if they need it.
Certainly, older students approach college differently, but it doesn't invalidate the younger ones. They're learning too, but they're doing it both inside and outside the classroom, that's all.
10.2.03 @ 11:21p
If I had the luxury, I'd be a college student for the rest of my life. I love to learn and to immerse myself into new academic endeavors, and certainly there have been enough innovations and discoveries in dozens of fields within the 12 years since I graduated to keep me enthralled for another 12 years. But beyond the classroom and lab, I'd just love to be back in that wonderfully curious environment again. College, for me, was the grand experiment! At no other time in your life are you exposed to so much, permitted the recklessness of youth coupled with the liberties of adulthood.
What did I get out of the classroom? I remember so little! Not for lack of dedication, but because there was so much life going on simultaneously. Beyond academics I worked part time on campus to earn money, and wrote, edited and bled for the campus newspaper -- and the latter served as the primary source of my education. It gave me the practical skills in layout, design and copywriting that no by-the-book class could. But if I hadn't been at college, I wouldn't have been working at the paper, and I wouldn't have gotten those skills. Who knows what I'd be doing?
And I took the best of both worlds -- studying in Europe for a semester, much of which was spent backpacking my way from hostel to hostel, Ireland to Sweden to East Germany and back again, exposing me to new worldviews and new cultures while I was still young enough to embrace them, rather than grumping about in the comfortable intransigence of the 30-something's status quo.
10.2.03 @ 11:24p
I must confess, I, being a 3rd year college student right now, wrote this last year in an extremely boring philosophy class in which all of the older students were fully engaged, and the younger students were fully asleep. Maybe I make some generalizations, but those were purely my thoughts at that very moment. I personally dont think Im getting all I can get out of school at this point in my life. Not because I party, or because Im lazy, but because Im restless, and eager to get out into the world, and being that I am a dance major, college isnt exactly that necessary. I often wonder if I would have taken some time to clear my head after highschool, would I be getting more out of the experience.
Anyhow, my friend took a year to travel around the world, and now she is attending school and receiving grades that are extremely better than mine. We were on exactly the same level in highschool. Now she excels, and I believe it's because she the time to clear her head, see the world, and set her priorities straight. For me, I just went to college because that just seemed like the next step.
All that Im saying is that it seems to me that the best scenario in order to get a good education would be to wait at least a year to get your priorities straight. From the people that I observe around me, it seems like a better way to get the most out of college.
Im sorry if some of you dont agree, and feel that Ive made generalizations, but this is how I feel.
10.2.03 @ 11:50p
You know what? You can take next semester off, and travel and clear your head. You know why you can make this decision?
Because you can. Nothing is stopping you. Not status quo. Not your friend, whom you believe to be doing "better" than you because she did something different. Not your parents or your professors. You can make a choice to do whatever is best for you ...
... and in reality, because you've already experienced college, you may find that your life experiences await you off campus.
I don't mean to insult anyone, but an 18-year-old rarely knows what they hell they want, much less know who they really are, so clearing your head before college is a nice thought, but what the hell do you know? You just left the most insulating world you've ever known.
One thing I've noticed is that anyone younger than 25 thinks that their entire world is exactly that moment. While I believe in living the moment, my advanced years have demonstrated the importance of many decisions made when I didn't realize the impact at the time. What you have now - youth, energy, the power of choice, freedom - are amazing tools for self-discovery.
If you're restless, than I might I suggest studying abroad, working a cruise ship for a year, joining Americorp...anything that will challenge you and open your mind. The status quo of "finish college by 22" is obviously not for you - and you know what?
That's perfectly okay.
Many people only aim for a particular destination, when occasionally the potty pull-off at that all-night diner may provide an exciting detour.
10.3.03 @ 12:37a
Having completed the requirements for an Associates degree about a year ago, this is an area where I speak with experience.
Looking back on the time I spent in college, I wonder. What exactly did I learn there? The honest answer is nothing or more accurately, nothing that I couldn't just as easily have learned from borrowing a stack of books from the local library.
While I agree that Alicia did generalize far too much in her comments on those attending college, let's consider something. Of the people who enter college each year, quite a few are motivated to learn, yet have little to no idea what they want to do with their life. Then you have quite a few students who are going to college just because their parents gave them an ultimatum of go to college or get a job. Those types are the jocks you knew in high school and don't forget that anything remotely resembling work to them is like kryptonite to Superman.
Another thing about college is that the small minority that does know what it wants to do is forced to spend a good part of their college career in cramped classrooms doing irrelevant pointless busy work. If a person wants to be a journalist do they really need to know algebra? The answer is no (as well as for most careers outside of the scientific and engineering fields). But because colleges are run by administrators with no long range vision beyond holding on to their valuable state funding, we get crap about how these bullshit busy work classes are supposed to "broaden students perspectives on the world around them". The only problem with that idea is, 95% of the material studied in college core classes is regurgitated material from high school classes.
Then we have the professors hired by those administrators and many of them know little to nothing of what they’re supposed to be teaching, outside of what’s outlined in the course handbook. That, combined with the attitudes of those former high school jocks I mentioned earlier, has succeeded in turning colleges into institutions of rote memorization and tedious copying. College may have once been a place for intellectual thinking. It no longer is.
That’s why I advocate not jumping into college right out of high school. Take a reasonable amount of time (a year and a half at the most), get perspective and decide what you want to do. Then proceed from there.
I also advocate that colleges should make the GE classes optional and only require students to take what they specifically need for their chosen major. Maybe I’m being naïve here. But to me it’s just wrong to make young people spend four to six years of their life in cramped classrooms sweating over abstract math equations and other pointless busy work that isn’t going to do you a bit of good in the long run.
10.3.03 @ 12:37a
The most accurate description of college is the following one from Good Will Hunting: "You're gonna wake up and realize you dropped $150.00 on an education you could have gotten for $1.95 in late fees at the public library".
10.3.03 @ 12:13p
I definitely don't think everyone should go to college right out of high school. But I certainly don't think we should prohibit everyone from going until they're 25 either.
I went to college knowing I wanted to be a writer. With the exception of one minor change (from newspaper to advertising) I went through college always wanting to be a writer. I got a job out of college as a writer. And I'll always be one.
I was glad to dive right into school, learn what I had to learn, and get out so I could start my career.
10.3.03 @ 8:14p
From a prof's point of view -- all my students, young and old, come to the intellectual pot luck we call the classroom with something. As the prof, I have knowledge and ideas to communicate and it is up to me to take advantage of the delicacies brought by others and create a proper thought banquet. Class should ideally excite, challenge, and invigorate the mind. But, as you say, not everyone is up for the challenge. Some prefer to sleep or slack off. Some have serious demands such as a full time job, a family, family problems, relationships, lack of relationships, extracurricular demands, stress, etc. Some people, even me, have off-days. Like an actor (or a Socratic philosopher or an ad copy-writer), though, I have to know my audience and respond accordingly to get my message across and get the mental motors running. If half my class is asleep or not doing the work, well, I can blame homecoming weekend or great parties or raging hormones or general life crud or a bad and boring lecture some of the time... but not all the time. I need to figure out why the students are not engaged and attempt to remedy the problem if I can (some subjects might be beyond help and sometimes one's work demands -- far more than anyone but those in academic fields realize -- make creative approaches in the classroom an impossibility).
As for class itself, most learning happens outside the classroom. A class is a bit like a 50 minute infomercial. If a student goes back to his or her residence and talks or thinks about something from class or the book, I've succeeded at some level. Very few students aspire to become a miniature version of me (thank God). I am certainly happy to believe that my class lasts in different ways -- perhaps a new way of thinking or a new appreciation for the subject covered or even a new idea inspired. Some students simply learn (usually over time and over many classes) self-discipline and the relationship between input and output.
Also, in response to one of the comments above... If you believe that reading texts at the library replaces a college education... two possibilities. 1) You are the type of person who learns best from self-teaching and reading. I'm not an expert on learning theory, but there are several different types of "learners" and not everyone learns information the same way -- some do better listening or by asking lots of questions around an issue or talking things through or by physically doing things.
2) I'm sorry to say that you received a very shallow college experience and probably did not get to take advantage of all the riches college has to offer. Your profs did not reach you and challenge you.
My sense of it is this: you might learn a thing or two about sex from watching porno movies, but its nothing like the real thing.
10.4.03 @ 12:10a
Sarah, I was having a discussion with a friend of mine this very afternoon on the merits of a Vo-Tech education v. High School with a college future, lamenting the fact I have no real skills (my friend is an electrician and can get some major money for his skills), and if I were to leave my currently loathed position as a Realtor/sales Associate and go for a job that would pay me enough to live on, I'd be looking for something in the field of middle management because I can't really do something more interesting (no offense to middle managers, you guys rock! Really!), or I'd end up a cashier in a convenience store (cashiers also rock! Except for the ones who short change me).
My real talent, whether noticed or not, is my ability to create with words. It is discouraging to see a literary world filled with bookshelves of "tell all" trash reality books. I'm a fiction lover. So my desire to become a published author led me to English and Journalism, as well as photography and the occult.
My friend agreed that he has a skill that can pull in the money for him, but he really wants to go back to school and get a degree in photography and graphic arts. He does have a great eye for artistic photography.
So I think it isn't so much the degree or the education that is important, as is the feeling of enjoying what you do, and being proud of what you do.
Alicia, I would definitely suggest taking the time off for a semester. If you're anxious to get out in the real world, get on with your life, experience something more than classroom, then by all means do it. It's better to do it while you're young enough to go back to school and get a good paying job in something you enjoy.
Of course if you think you just might want to be a sales associate in a real estate firm, I strongly suggest heavy drinking and partying your life away now.
Whatever you choose, good luck with it, and remember you are the one who must experience it. Don't let anyone discourage you from doing something you want.
10.7.03 @ 10:36p
I shall tell you how reading that feels from a 19-year-old's point of view.
It's the absolute truth. But not for everyone.
For being the smart guy that I am, I am only working now. I royally screwed up my first year of college. Why? For being lazy and careless, up to a point. I pretty much stoppped going to all my classes, except my Psy one, more than a month before the semester ended. I thought that I could make it at the end. But here I am, without going to school. I am trying my hardest, though, to get back.
Now that I realize I made one of the biggest mistakes of my life by not going to classes, I feel I am more determined to go back next spring. I actually miss going to class.
The other thing is this, if you drop out of school at a young age, you get stereotyped as a slacker. At least in the cases I've known of (My family still doesn't know I am not taking classes. Thus, the reason why I am still alive right now).
Yet, my ex-roommate is one of the hardest working guys I know when it comes to school work. Not to mention he is president of the RHA (Dorm govt.), and he has B- average. I've always admired that of him. When it comes time to do homework, you better not bother him.
I am living proof your point, Alicia. But at least I think I know now what I have to do in order to get the most out of college.