College in a Nutshell

 

Oh man. I don’t even really know where to start this blog post. The blog I stumbled upon was Inside Higher Ed, the particular post I’m going to talk about is called “The Anxiety Crisis,” and basically it sums up all of my current qualms with the education system. My first though after reading the title was “yes, this is exactly what college education is creating.” The article touches on Obama’s Race to the Top, the cons of standardized testing, the ridiculous price of education, and the general anxieties of college education.

The beginning of the article describes the “face crumble.” You know, that moment when the smallest bit of news causes you to just fall apart. As the author was detailing this face crumble, I could relate to it all to well. I’ve experienced this moment of distress and helplessness multiple times throughout my education, as has most students in this generation. According to the article, students’ self-reported levels of emotional health care are at record lows!

Yes, college is supposed to be tough. No one said it was easy. But in addition to already having a rough course load, college students are burdened with the presence of student loans and lots and lots of debt. We’re told we have to go to college to get an education so that we can get a good job, but then all of the money we make in that “good” job goes to paying off all of our debt. Nowadays it’s nearly impossible to work your way through college. Minimum wage is nowhere near enough to cover our loans, nor do we have enough time in our week to work enough hours to build up a large chunk of money.

My favorite line from this article is “students look at the larger culture and see nota ladder of opportunity, but a treadmill of obligation.” THIS IS SO TRUE. I’ve had this conversation with my parents a few times, and when they recollect on college, they remember being so excited to graduate and start a job and be a part of the real world. For current college kids, the idea of being in the real world and having to face real world problems like lack of jobs and a lot of debt is pretty terrifying. Another line that really stuck out to me was, “for our students’ entire lives we have communicated that the reason to learn things is not to fulfill curiosities, but to see where you stack up relative to others.” THIS IS ALSO SO TRUE. When we come to college, we’re expected to know/be close to knowing what we want to do with the rest of our lives. But when were we ever given a chance to explore our options? To explore our likes and dislikes?

Now that I’m in my program, I’m gaining a whole new appreciation for learning. Up until this semester, I’ve either been told the exact classes I have to take (whether I like them or not) or I’ve had to take a class I’m really not interested in solely to meet an education requirement. This semester, however, I’m finally taking a full course load of classes that I really enjoy. Special education is something I’ve been passionate about for a while, but this is the first time I’ve been able to dedicate all my time and effort to the subject and field. Not only am I learning about special education in a classroom setting, but also I’m able to go out into the community and experience it hands on. Learning is so, completely different when you’re learning about something you really enjoy or are passionate about, and students don’t get to fully experience that until they come to college and have hopefully figured out their major.

I know I’ve kind of rambled and maybe gotten away from the main point of the blog post, but basically, this article is great. I think all educators, especially higher education teachers, should read this so that they can have a better understanding of what it’s like to be a high school and college student right now. We’re constantly comparing ourselves to the rest of our class rather than simply enjoying the education we’re receiving. Rather than learning for the pure purpose of gaining new knowledge, we’re learning in order to be smarter than him or her. This program has so far given me a small taste of what it’s like to learn simply to learn, and it’s something all students should experience, full-time. Yes, school and learning will always be somewhat stressful and tough, but it should not be damaging the mental and emotional health of so many students as it is now. Learning should be f u n.

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