PDA

View Full Version : The promise of college for our generation


Ken Leung
04-17-2006, 10:21 PM
I want to post an off topic question because I've been trouble by this question ever since I started college a while ago. I am bringing this up because a lot of my friends are struggling through this issue.

There are a lot of student in college who are there without knowing what they want to do, and what they are going to do after getting out of college. There are a lot of students who even before going to college, already have trouble figuring out what their future is. There are a lot of students who struggle in college without knowing what they are struggling for.

So, I want to post this question to you. Are we setting students of our generation on too high of a dream, promising anything and everything as long as they go to college and get a degree, without backing that promise up with something that helps students realize what path they should take, and what their dreams should be? Are we telling them to take these journeys, without giving them a clear idea of where that journey leads to?

In other words, are we promising too much, and when the students realized they have to have their own dreams and their own goals, and they fall extra hard because there's no one to catch them and show them the way?

I am asking this question in a very general way, because a lot of FIRST students go to college knowing what they want. But I don't see the same for a lot of other students (ie. students who haven't participated in FIRST).

I welcome everyone to join this conversation, whether you are a mentor, high school student, or college student... Please, by all means, go beyond my questions and share with us any thought you have about this subject.

MrForbes
04-17-2006, 10:29 PM
It's probably been that way for at least 40 years....

Seems to me that you have to live life for a while, try out some different careers, to get a feel for what you really want. The problem is that it's so much easier to learn while you're young, but you probably won't know for sure what you want to learn until you're older.

Obvoiusly I don't have a solution for the problem !

Eugenia Gabrielov
04-17-2006, 10:33 PM
Thanks for these words of wisdom.

I think a lot of the confusion comes from the way students handle the college search, and decide where they are going to apply. I had the fortune of having visited 5 of the 7 schools I applied to before I started the process, so I feel I was at an advantage. However, I want to quote someone who said something very wise about her own search. It deeply impacted me even after I had finished the process - let's just say that since there are people with this mindset, I think things are going to be OK:

I applied to only three schools, and was accepted into all of them: RPI, WPI, and University of Miami. All three of them gave me a considerable amount of financial aid/grants/loans, and all three have excellent engineering programs. However, I decided upon the University of Miami for the same reasons that I decided NOT to apply to the Ivy League schools and places like MIT and Caltech.

I believe that I am as bright as any of the people who choose to go to the really prestigious schools, and had it been my goal throughout high school, I could have gotten in and attended those schools. But I am not in love with academics. I am not the type of person who develops a strong passion for receiving perfect grades and test scores. I enjoy learning, but I am not very good at playing the "school game". Managing my time is difficult for me, as is staying organized (gosh darn ADD). Always having a 4.0 average is not my talent, and I never felt the desire to make it the central focus of my high school career. Of course, I always maintained good grades throughout high school (A-/B+/an occasional C), but they weren't perfect. Certainly not the kind of grades that Yale or Harvard would be looking for.

I used to feel bad about the fact that my transcript never seemed to match up with my true potential. However, I now realize that the fact that I DON'T obsess over my GPA means that I would probably HATE being in an environment where every other student was the class valedictorian. This is why I decided that schools like MIT and Princeton were not the right settings for me.

The other reason why I decided against the engineering powerhouse schools because I was interested in being a part of a small engineering program where my professors would know me by name. The University of Miami turned out to be perfect in this aspect because of the size of it's engineering program - only about 200 students in the freshman class. After speaking to many people, and making several visits, I found the atmosphere at the UM College of Engineering to be friendly, nurturing, and almost familial. Not to mention that the engineering program is one of the top 100 in the country. I loved the fact that while I would be working alongside qualified professors and bright students like myself, I would rarely find myself in a high-stress, high-competition situation. Students work TOGETHER on hands on projects, not against each other. Plus, I was enthused by the fact that there has always been 100% job placement for engineering students, and many opportunities exist for hands on undergraduate research.

So, thats my story. I am proud to be a Hurricane and I am totally enthused and excited about the coming four years. My advice: just because a college has a fancy name attached to it, doesn't mean it is the right place for you. If you are not the type of person who enjoys playing the academic "game", look for a college that will nurture you, instead of push you to be a perfect academic.

-- Jaine

Can be found in context here (http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/showpost.php?p=488316&postcount=27) .

Not2B
04-17-2006, 10:38 PM
I understand Ken's question very well, as it's something my wife has/is going through.

She was told that engineering was hard, and it was something she couldn't do because it was too hard. So.... she proved that wasn't true. She went to University of Michigan, which is not some easy school, and got a degree in Materials Science. Metals and Ceramics (not so much in the polymers.)

She graduated with a high GPA, and didn't really know what to do with that. Worked in a steel mill - hated it, and now works in advertising, which is totally unrelated to what she studied.

But she was always told if she went to college and got a good degree, she would be set for life. But she hated engineering, and had worked several entry level jobs just to make her way through advertising. Had she studied something like art history (something she would enjoy), she would have had an easier time.

Getting a degree isn't a free ride, especially if it's something you don't enjoy.

Besides, college isn't for everyone.

No idea how to fix this. Personally, I try not to push college on everyone - something I used to do. I have recognized that it's not for everyone, figuring out what someone wants to do is more important.

rufu5
04-17-2006, 10:47 PM
I can't really comment on the idea of what happens in college or after college to students who "fall extra hard" because I am still only in high school. But as a student who has up to this point had a life totally dedicated to "getting into college" and getting a good score on all the standardized tests, its kind of surreal feeling to actually be going to college in a few months.

For all of the possible pitfalls, I think the ability to fail is a good thing. Take that how you will, but without the possibility of failure, of a true challenge, having to make something for yourself ... isn't the outcome cheapened? I don't really want "a clear idea of where that journey leads to" because that would kind of be like making a robot for FIRST with a full step-by-step instruction manual on how to make the perfect robot. We need the uncertainty that comes with the first small steps of personal independence, we need the chance to change our major, and we need the experience of not getting the first job we interview for. Because otherwise, we'll just take everything we have for-granted.

Most likely my tune will change in 5 years, after I'm out of college and more "mature," but right now so this discussion can have multiple viewpoints :D that is my view as a senior in high school

sanddrag
04-17-2006, 10:52 PM
The problem I take most notice of in college is the lack of quality education through innovative and creative means. Education has become boring and not very fun at all. Students sleep in class, or skip class, because they can't stand listening to a professor babble on through equations in a room with grey walls, fluorescent lights, and no windows. Professors are teaching how to calculate the way through designing the perfect screwdriver when half the students in the class haven't even held one.

This is a hands on generation. We don't like sitting in cramped little chairs with attached desks barely larger than a sheet of paper while being lectured at.

In many of my college classes, a 50% class average on a test would be considered normal. This is simply unnaceptable.

Education is failing. Nobody wants to stare at a board full of greek letters and complicated equations all day. Nobody wants to labor through a 1000 page math book solving hundreds of integrals. It isn't working. We aren't learning.

Education needs to become more applied and exciting. Right now, at least to me, it is quite boring.

Nuttyman54
04-17-2006, 11:04 PM
Education is failing. Nobody wants to stare at a board full of greek letters and complicated equations all day. Nobody want to labor through a 1000 page math book solving hundreds of integrals. It isn't working. We aren't learning.

Education needs to become more applied.

I know how that goes. I'm a senior in high school, and one of my favorite classes this year is AP Phsyics. Yes, it's a hard class, but the teacher makes it engaging with good, hands-on projects.

First we learn about air drag, center of mass and center of pressure, and then we design and build model rockets. We measure their coefficent of drag, the thrust curve of an engine and write excel programs to calculate the predicted height. Put an altimeter in the payload bay, launch and record. This is one of many projects we do. It's fun and it gives context for all the equations, as well as ensuring that we know how to apply them.

That's how school should be taught. Knowing the equations is one thing, but being able to give them context in the real world is entirely different. This is one of the reasons FIRST is so successful at inspiring students. If the education system was able to tap into that, the results could be incredible.

Tim Baird
04-17-2006, 11:26 PM
Are we telling them to take these journeys, without giving them a clear idea of where that journey leads to?

Half of the fun/point of college is that you don't necessarily know where the journey will take you. Sometimes, you have to go out into the world not knowing what the outcome will be, get into some tight situations, and then learn how to come out on top. It's like a bird learning to fly, at some point it has to step out of the nest and fall, hopefully flapping it's wings correctly before it hits the ground.

Of course, I realize that college is expensive and the longer you take to figure out where you want to fit it, the more it will cost you. So, as long as you use only your freshman (and maybe some of sophomore) year to figure things out, you'll be fine.

If it's any consolation, when I graduated from HS, 5 people in the top 10 of the class went to college "undecided".

b_mallerd
04-17-2006, 11:40 PM
I'm not going to post secondary for another year yet...but I've never had a clear plan where I wanted to go. It's more like I'm going to post secondary to realize what I want to do. I have a general direction (computing science or Environmental science) but no real occupations in mind.

The sad thing is, everyone goes to college for a job...."if you dont go to post secondary you won't have a job (well at least a decent one)". So everyone is flocking to univercity and getting a degree in anything just so they can go out to find work.

I want to go to univercity for higher learning...for deeper understanding of the material. I find classes and subject matters taught in highschool to be woefullly dissapointing and shallow. Nothing is satisfactorily understood by the time the teaher goes "time for a chapter test". I think this is the right reason to go to univercity...I may be wrong...but I won't be entering it as a means by which to find a job...it will be a means to further my understanding in fields of interest.

Gdeaver
04-17-2006, 11:53 PM
I went through this with my son who is now finishing his second semester in ME. You don't go to college to learn how to do a job - thats what technical institutes are for and most in this country suck. I told my son that you go to college to learn how to learn. In high school you're more or less spoon fed the basic subjects. You're told exactly what to read and you're lectured in class. The tests are nothing more than a chance to regurgitate the info back. In college you should be practicing the skill of research. By the time you graduate you should be able to teach your self. This is important because the one constant in your future is change. If you can't adapt and constantly re-educate you're self you won't thrive and prosper in whatever career you choose. You have 4 years of not having to deal with the real world. Find yourself, have a good time, explore your horizons, etc. and learn how to learn.

Jizvonius
04-18-2006, 12:18 AM
Wow Ken,

I started typing replies to your post twice. They got very long and I realized that they still wouldn't do justice to the depth of the questions you just asked or fully portray my response. I was beginning to wonder why it was so hard to get the post going. Then I realized that it was the same difficulty that I have in writing long essays and term papers. It would probably take something of that length to explore the implications of what you have posed.

That said, I will just pose more questions that came up when I tried to answer yours.


In our society what factors define success for students?

Do we encourage quantitatively measuring success? Why or why not?

How else do we measure success?(what is our 'ruler')

In portraying the success of icons, do we abstract the aspects of their journey that we find undesirable? Is knowledge of the full story important?

Are we motivated by hope or guarantees?

If both which one is the stronger motivator?

Which is the better motivator?

There are more, but I'll leave it there........for now.

eugenebrooks
04-18-2006, 12:43 AM
The goal of college is to get an education in a field of study that interests you. In the end, you likely have to go out and get a job so it is useful if the education serves this purpose as well, but if the education itself is not interesting to you a change of venue is in order.

One possible change of venue can be a change of major if you find that an alternative major stokes a fire in you. If your major is not doing that for you it is likely that any follow-on employment in the same field may not stoke a fire either, so a change in venue is all the more important.

If the rigors of college are something that you find unattractive enough to complain about, you should really consider an alternative. There are many career oriented "schools of specialization" that require only one or two years and that provide an attractive employment venue afterwards. There is nothing wrong with these alternatives if they are a fit for you.

I spent a great deal of time building electronic circuits as a teenager 35 years ago (many of these circuits used tubes), and went to college with a passion to become an electrical engineer. In spite of nearly straight As, I was quite bored with the general engineering curriculum and switched to Physics at the end of my first year. I learned, in college, that what I really had a passion for was understanding how physical things worked and I have stuck with it through a Phd, and ever since.

Actively hunt for your passion in college. Hunt your passion until you find a major that is so interesting that even a bad professor is not all that hard to bear. Find a topic of study that drops your jaw when you learn cool things.

For me, it was learning things like Maxwell's equations predicting the speed of light and why the sky is blue. For you, it is likely to be something different, but find your passion you can, and finding your passion is worth the effort that it takes. This is nothing new for today's generation. It has always been this way. If you can look back at your college days 30 years later, and still be thrilled at how cool the topic of study was, in spite of how hard it was, and still want to learn more about it, you are doing the right thing in college.

Seek out your passion, when you find it, it will be worth it...

Ben Lauer
04-18-2006, 01:15 AM
Education is failing. Nobody wants to stare at a board full of greek letters and complicated equations all day. Nobody wants to labor through a 1000 page math book solving hundreds of integrals. It isn't working. We aren't learning.

Education needs to become more applied and exciting. Right now, at least to me, it is quite boring.

I disagree. With my education I can look at a mass spring system and see a second order linear differential equation with dampening coefficient zeta. When I look at a water tank draining, I see a second order non linear differential equation. You want to know what the greatest part is? Not that I see it, or that I know I can solve it, but that every time I see it, I KNOW it, and I KNOW what it will do. Knowledge is great, anyway we get it.

I thought high school was a waste, and I thought I didn't learn anything important stuff in freshman year of college. I am 5 weeks from the end of my sophomore year, and I am really excited for the next two year because I see the potential for what I can learn and KNOW! And those first 5 years of my secondary schooling where necessary in order to learn at the new level.

I think that applying the knowledge can happen properly until you think you know what is going to happen, and realized why you were wrong.

Ben Lauer
04-18-2006, 01:22 AM
I told my son that you go to college to learn how to learn. In high school you're more or less spoon fed the basic subjects. You're told exactly what to read and you're lectured in class.
I have a personal example of this.
My father is a biology teacher at Ball State University. When he teaches freshman bio, he makes them do the following.
He holds up a blue card, he says, "what color is this"
- They respond, "blue"
He says, that is how you learn in high school, regurgitation of facts.
He holds up the card again and asks "why is it blue"
- They mumble something about absorption of light.
He states, that is college.
And he continues on by asking "now what do i need to do to make the color red?"

It isn't what you know, but how you know it and how you can apply the knowledge.

Jaine Perotti
04-18-2006, 01:30 AM
Thanks for these words of wisdom.

I think a lot of the confusion comes from the way students handle the college search, and decide where they are going to apply. I had the fortune of having visited 5 of the 7 schools I applied to before I started the process, so I feel I was at an advantage. However, I want to quote someone who said something very wise about her own search. It deeply impacted me even after I had finished the process - let's just say that since there are people with this mindset, I think things are going to be OK:



Can be found in context here (http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/showpost.php?p=488316&postcount=27) .I appreciate your reference to my post Genia.

I am very tired, and I want to go to bed soon, so I think I will make a longer post regarding the subject of this thread at a later date. However, the fact that Genia brings up my post warrants a quick response in regards to it on my part.

I was talking to a good friend on line tonight, who told me that there were a few people who were offended by the post I made about my college search. They felt that I was "stereotyping", making "generalizations", and undermining the hard work that they put into making into the "elite" schools such as MIT, Caltech, etc.

I want to take this opportunity to clarify the intentions of that post, because it is relevant to this thread topic.

My intention in writing that post was not to insult anyone. My true intention was to point out that the Ivy League isn't necessarily the best place for all "bright" students. Many times, students hold the misconception that the more "competitive" the school is, the better the education they will receive there.

The above statement does NOT mean that I believe the elite schools can't offer any students a good education. There are many different types of learners, and I happen to be the kind who doesn't do well at strenuous academic work, but excels at hands-on, non-competitive work. However, there are certainly students who excel in the atmospheres that the Ivy League schools provide. It's all a matter of whether or not your work habits are compatible with the environment that is offered by the school.

In writing that post, I wanted to offer an alternative perspective to the students out there who are similar to me - those who don't do well with "academics", but love learning anyways. I wanted to explain to future college students that the highly competitive schools are not necessarily the BEST place for them to get an education. Just because a school is well known doesn't mean that it will be conducive to your work habits. In my opinion, choosing a school for it's "name" (not its characteristics), is just as bad of a choice as picking a school because "your friends are going there." There is just no guarantee that it will be the best place for you. I realized that the highly competitive schools weren't the right place for me, and I am encouraging all prospective college students to consider what the best environment truly is for them.

No matter what school a student gets into, the same amount of congratulations and respect should be given to anyone who recognizes and chooses the school most compatible with their learning style. I am just as proud of the friends of mine who got in to Dartmouth (because it was the best school for them) as the friends of mine who are opting to do to community college (because it was the best school for them), and you should too.

If you take issue with either of my posts, I am sure it is because I am not explaining it well enough. If something bothers you, please PM me, and I will do my best to clarify my statements.

-- Jaine

Ken Leung
04-18-2006, 01:57 AM
Let us agree that the best college for us may not necessary the most competitive schools in the country, and let that be that. Jaine, I think you have a good point, one worth standing on, and you shouldn't feel bad expressing what you really think. There must be others out there who believe the same thing (I happened to be one of them).

Getting back to the topic, let me articulate my position further.

While there are many definition for success, for example, getting through a difficult challenge, exploring the world, getting a higher degree, learning how to learn, and finding your passion, which I agree are great achievements for any college students, I think it is more important to look at the flip side of them.

College CAN be many things for many students, but it CAN also be the following things to some students I know:

College is something they want to get over as soon as possible and want nothing to do with afterward.
College is a collection of cutting classes and missing as much work as possible and scrape by with the minimal effort.
School and learning are something they hate, and homework and tests are something they hate worse.
College is something they struggle with, have no idea why they struggle with, and something they don't know how to succeed in.

And here is the worst: College is something someone told them to go to.


I do not disagree there are many cases of success in colleges across the United States. I do, however, want to point out that it seems to me there is a raising feeling of not knowing what the point of college is among the students. I do not yet have any evidence to support this observation, other than observations I made from friends in my school. That's is why I raised this question, becuase I do not know all the facts (I doubt anyone does).

Do you agree, or disagree with this? Is our generation more aware or less aware of the point of college? And is the lack of this awareness the reason why so many students are struggling through college?

sanddrag
04-18-2006, 02:18 AM
College is something they want to get over as soon as possible and want nothing to do with afterward.
College is a collection of cutting classes and missing as much work as possible and scrape by with the minimal effort.
School and learning are something they hate, and homework and tests are something they hate worse.
College is something they struggle with, have no idea why they struggle with, and something they don't know how to succeed in.
That right there is about the best way to sum up our (what I believe to be) failing educational system.

I do agree, although unfortunately I do not have any answers or solutions.

School is not fun. FIRST is fun. But not every school has FIRST, and even fior the ones that have FIRST, not every class is FIRST. There are more things to learn in life than you learn in FIRST, but something about the structure of it makes you learn while not even realizing; and you have fun at the same time too.

Maybe that is the key: To truly learn something well, you should not realize you are in the process of learning until after you have learned it and surpise yourself in a magnificent display of your skills.

Heck, I don't know. It is late. Sounded interesting for tonight though.

I am kind of thinking though in an extraordinary education, you don't even realize you are learning. Does that make any sense to anyone?

Taylor
04-18-2006, 07:32 AM
When was it ever stated that College/High School/Life was supposed to be fun? "Fun" is such a subjective concept - I'm sure there are millions of people in the world that would have absolutely no interest in FIRST, its competitions, or its philosophy. In fact, I'm sure there are many people and cultures that would despise what FIRST is and what it stands for. They would say it is hypocritical at its very core - it is trying to get attention away from glamorized sports and entertainment, but uses sport and entertainment as its foundation for its culminating activity.
Mind, I'm not one of those people. But I hope you see my point.
College in and of itself is not students cutting class, it's not boring professors giving boring lectures, it's not a 24-hour drunkfest at some fraternity house, it's not impossible final exams designed to flunk half the students.
Not to say these things don't happen, but to me that's like saying America is a country of toothless inbred obese people. Which may be a pervasive view of America from the perspective of other countries - the pendulum swings both ways. What stereotypes do you have of citizens of France? Mexico? Afghanistan? Japan? Kenya? Does that mean everybody in those nations are exemplified by a stereotype, true or untrue as it may be?
No, college is an opportunity. College is the chance to better oneself by spending time with the professor after class, to reason through the "boring" lecture on microbiology. Some things just aren't fun - does that mean we don't need these things?
College offers so many opportunities, challenges, rewarding experiences, both in and out of the classroom. It is unfortunate that the view of it is biased by the poor decisions of some of its students and faculty. Some students choose to skip class/sleep through lectures/waste time and brain cells through inappropriate behavior. If only they knew what they were missing.
I was just discussing with a colleague earlier that it's too bad that we don't realize the opportunities available to us until after they have passed. If I had college to do over again, it would certainly be different.
Don't let your college experience be flavored by the poor choices by other people, no matter who they are. Life is what you make of it - what you get out of college is proportional to what you put into it.
"It has been my experience that people are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be." - Abraham Lincoln.

So ends Part One - Part Two to come.

Taylor
04-18-2006, 07:48 AM
You are absolutely correct - it is unfortunate that college is promoted as the destination. Many people make career and life decisions during or after their college experience, me being one of them. I went through four majors before I landed on the one I graduated with - and that's not what I do now. But I wouldn't be the person I am today if I hadn't gone on the academic path I took, and I wouldn't trade the experience for the world.
As I look back on college, I see that I learned a ton of academic information. I learned high-level mathematics, conceptual and applied physics, computer programming, psychology, philosophy, journalism, law, public speaking techniques, geology, chemistry, ad nauseum. But the things I learned that affected me most were the things I learned about myself - as a student, as a lover, as a Christian, as a human being, as an American, as a proud alumni. There is a definite maturation process that occurs in the college years, and in my experience, that, as much as the "fancy book-learnin", shapes people and helps them in their careers.
I hate to break it to you, but college is not the pinnacle of the mountain. There is a lot of climbing to get there, and I hope you've got a good sherpa and oxygen tanks. But when you get to the top, you realize it's a springboard to reach new heights.

Peter Matteson
04-18-2006, 08:05 AM
Wow, where to begin. I'll try to keep this short and to the point.

The academic side of college is really learning how to learn. Classes are supposed to be structured in a way that forces you to take that next step and work on your own to get further along than you are going in. Look at each of us as a toolbox. College is the store where you go and get the tools that fill the box. High school and some early college is learning some lower level tools that get built upon. By the end you should be fashioning your own tools. I'm the first to admit I don't know everything about engineering, but I know how to learn what I need as the situations cmoe along.

More people are going to college now than in the past. The problem facing many of them is that they have been spoon feed and carried along the whole way. Some schools and majors continue this now through college defeating what I described above. The student populace at large has changed over time and colleges have adjusted for it.

College is what you put into it and by many is looked at as a measure of proof that you can work to a goal you don't need to reach but want to. That is why it is a litmus test used by many employers.

Richard Wallace
04-18-2006, 09:43 AM
College is what you put into it and by many is looked at as a measure of proof that you can work to a goal you don't need to reach but want to. That is why it is a litmus test used by many employers.This is almost exactly what my first supervisor told me when I was an EE co-op at Hughes Aircraft in 1979. He was actually scolding me for getting a bad grade (supervisors received their students' grade reports back in the day), and said that the only reason he'd hire a college graduate over a similarly skilled person who had spent four years doing something else is that the college graduate had demonstrated ability to persevere through difficulty.

See also: the best twenty years of my life (http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/showthread.php?p=486906#post486906), and are you going to college to get a degree, or an education? (http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/showpost.php?p=486920&postcount=16)

JaneYoung
04-18-2006, 11:22 AM
Rudderless is a common feeling during college for many.

In a way you are feeling the benefits of F.I.R.S.T. -it's strengths and philosophies.

There are those who follow choices made by others rather than themselves. And there are those who make easy choices at the time.
And there are those who just don't know.

Education goes hand in hand with self-discovery and exploration. The trick is to engage.

Jane

thatphotochick
04-18-2006, 11:40 AM
as a high school student, i can not comment on the struggle of being in college cause i haven't gone to college. but for me, college was pushed on me since i was little. the reason was cause most of my family did not go to college. but ever since i learned what college was, i've never wanted to go. i have my interests and what i like to do, which is a huge list, but college is not for me. i barely work at high school and i don't care for school already, so why waste my parents' money, which they don't have, or the money of the good people who would give it to me. i don't have a clue what i want to do, or even what i am going to do after i graduate. i just feel that pushing college on everyone isn't the answer, cause that is how you get so many people who have no idea what they're going to do in life. encouraging kids to do what they want could fix that. too many people want/expect their kids and students to become the best there is..too many of those people push them to become things they don't want to become. since i was little i have been pushed to become a business manager or run a business, something i've never wanted to be. if people took the time to discover what a kid likes to do, that could stop a few people from becoming something they don't want to be. it might not be the solution, i've never been known to solve a problem, but it could help.

Charlie B
04-18-2006, 11:42 AM
Anyone looking for motivation should review the wage earning statistics for college graduates vs. high school graduates.

Don't worry too much about choosing the right career to start off with. Chances are, your career will change three or four times over your lifetime, and you'll wind up in something that doesn't even exist now.

Jason Kixmiller
04-18-2006, 12:02 PM
I think that the biggest "problem" is not necessarily encouraging or pushing students to attend college; it's the negative connotation that is associated with NOT going to college. Sometimes it seems that students are subliminally told that people that don't go to college are destined to be unhappy or unsuccessful in. I think a solution might be helping students explore the other options...maybe college is just a way to avoid our fear of the unknown. While the benefits of college are constantly presented, when are the alternatives discussed?

Chris Fultz
04-22-2006, 11:55 PM
college is not the pinnacle of the mountain. There is a lot of climbing to get there, and I hope you've got a good sherpa and oxygen tanks. But when you get to the top, you realize it's a springboard to reach new heights.

Well said.

College is about individual growth and maturity, and finding a field of study that interests you. I was told recently that many college students change their major 3 or 4 times from their freshman year through graduation. Some might say that was bad, but I would say "AWESOME" becasue the college experience probably introuduced them to a field of study and potential career that they did not know existed before they arrived on campus. You learn to learn, learn to think and learn to be responsible for yourself.

True, college is not for everyone, and even high school is not for everyone. But I can tell you I know many people who dropped out of high school or never made the committment to go to college and regret that decision now, and I cannot name a single person who DID graduate from college and regrets that decision.

There are lots of statements in this thread about "many more" and "nobody" and etc. Does anyone have any DATA to back up those statements? Just curious, since college attendance and graduation rates are on a continued rise.

Joe Matt
04-23-2006, 01:01 AM
Life is hard. College is very hard. As some might have noticed with me (or will at Champs), I've matured quite a bit at college. I matured a lot over FIRST, but college put about twice as much into maturing me. You need to be prepared for the fall you'll face. It will happen, and it will be very bad. It's up to you how you handle it. I've thought about if business/communications/etc would be a better fit, but I feel that engineering just hasn't been given a chance yet, and I still feel that this is the way now, even with finals around the corner.

I'm comfortable to admit that I'm going to re-take intro physics for engineers over the summer. I FAILED the course, I want to admit that. I've never failed a class before. NEVER. Why am I telling you guys this? Because if it helps one kid who realizes that he/she's not the only one, then I'm happy. I know one kid who has retaken Calc 1 and will retake physics again. He still wants to be an engineer.

Just because you don't go to college, you change your major, change your school, etc, DOESN'T mean that you fail at life, and it doesn't mean you will not change the world. Steve Jobs & Bill Gates are two PRIME examples of this. The longest running CEO of all time, Michael Eisner of Disney was an english major out of a small liberal arts college in Ohio, not some Ivy league or major college. For every Lary Page & Serji there is another guy who graduated from a small college who has impacted the world greatly, or, never even graduated college, such as Steve & Bill.

The promise of the future is hard. Right now we're fighting an uphill battle against other countries. While we're focused on war and American Idol, they're focused on science, technology, and learning. Not much motivation now, eh?

JaneYoung
04-23-2006, 01:06 AM
Life is hard. College is very hard. As some might have noticed with me (or will at Champs), I've matured quite a bit at college. I matured a lot over FIRST, but college put about twice as much into maturing me. You need to be prepared for the fall you'll face. It will happen, and it will be very bad. It's up to you how you handle it. I've thought about if business/communications/etc would be a better fit, but I feel that engineering just hasn't been given a chance yet, and I still feel that this is the way now, even with finals around the corner.

I'm comfortable to admit that I'm going to re-take intro physics for engineers over the summer. I FAILED the course, I want to admit that. I've never failed a class before. NEVER. Why am I telling you guys this? Because if it helps one kid who realizes that he/she's not the only one, then I'm happy. I know one kid who has retaken Calc 1 and will retake physics again. He still wants to be an engineer.

Just because you don't go to college, you change your major, change your school, etc, DOESN'T mean that you fail at life, and it doesn't mean you will not change the world. Steve Jobs & Bill Gates are two PRIME examples of this. The longest running CEO of all time, Michael Eisner of Disney was an english major out of a small liberal arts college in Ohio, not some Ivy league or major college. For every Lary Page & Serji there is another guy who graduated from a small college who has impacted the world greatly, or, never even graduated college, such as Steve & Bill.

The promise of the future is hard. Right now we're fighting an uphill battle against other countries. While we're focused on war and American Idol, they're focused on science, technology, and learning. Not much motivation now, eh?

Wow Joe Matt!
Is the word - perseverence - anywhere in this thread? I think it just got put here by Joe.

sciguy125
04-23-2006, 01:23 AM
It seems that my friends and I (maybe there's a connection here) are in college because it opens doors to various professions. I realize that there's more to it than that, but thats why many of my friends and I are going to college.

To the point of not having a direction, however, several of my friends are in that position. They're in school to get a degree. Not to get a degree that will help them with their career goals, but simply to get a degree. The reason is that they still don't know what they want to do, so they don't really have any career goals to work toward. Actually, I know someone that changed their major because they weren't happy with their academic career, not because they didn't like the jobs it was going to give them. To me, being in school just for the sake of being in school seems like a waste of energy. There's plenty of more productive things you could do while you try and figure out where you want to go with your life.

A few have mentioned that college gives you an opportunity to see new things and possibly find a direction. Coincidentally, I had one of those "this is what I want to do with my life" moments a few days ago. Apparently, my school has a microelectronics processing lab - it's in the heart of Silicon Valley, so of course it does. There's enough equipment in there to start with a raw silicon wafer and end up with a working IC. My class was only there for some simple stuff (not IC related), but while we were there, we got a tour of the lab. And you know what? That place is so awesome! I've been wanting do do something in the neighborhood of control systems, but after being in that lab, I'm seriously considering IC manufacturing. That decision is a little impulsive for me, so there's no guarantees. But I'm going to at least try to take the IC processing and design class. So, I'll definately agree that college can show you new things you might be interested in.

KathieK
04-23-2006, 10:17 AM
I have worked in a college for the last four years and many of our graduating students are graduating with no idea what they want to do with their lives (or their degrees) - it is not unusual any longer.

Many students switch majors more than once because they discover new areas of learning that were not presented to them while in high school. The downside to this is that they are no longer graduating in 4 years.

I went to college not having a clue what I wanted to do, took a class that interested me and discovered a career that I had never heard of, one that I ended up working in for 25 years. Along the way a whole new world opened up, that of the Internet (yes, I am prehistoric and existed before the World Wide Web), and I discovered another new career - one that didin't exist when I went to college. Keeping your options open to new ideas and new interests and new careers is what is important as you head off to college (or any other pursuit in life). Visit your college career center in your FRESHMAN year. Use their tools and experience to guide you.

Consider taking a year off between high school and college. Explore other things. It might help you focus on what you want to do with your life.

And finally, don't beat yourself up if college "isn't for you". The world still needs retail sales associates, mechanics, plumbers... (just ask my husband).

JoeXIII'007
04-23-2006, 11:31 AM
Just want to get my 2 cents on this topic, for even though I'm still a Junior in high school, I have a sister who is going to be graduating from Eastern Michigan University with a degree in Business this year, and is on this very familiar track.

I skimmed through some of the responses on here, and someone said that we are being spoon fed in High School.

Personally, I think it is worse. Were not ONLY being spoon fed, but I believe our minds that know what to do for a future (college, tech school, whatever) are being brutally overidden by scenes and images of the 'good life.'

For example, instead of looking at a college for a good education in a field of choice, I fear more and more people think that going to college will automatically grant them a future, and more are choosing one that has a good lifestyle more than anything because of such a false vision.

There are more examples, such as companies making $$$$ that could be spent on future education, but instead its in trade for class rings, prom outfits, and senior pictures. But, I hope you get my point.

So in short, I believe that high schools need to start allowing all options for the future of any student, and not discourage those who chose an alternative to the traditional high school => liberal arts college => career route OR the route with the best possible lifestyle. The real world has many real possibilities, and to shut ourselves to one route is simply wrong.

Sorry if I was redundant in any area.

-Joe

PS: If this could not be any more coincidental, I wonder what could. 5 reasons to skip college from MSNBC and Forbes. (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12409530/)

Tyler Olds
04-23-2006, 12:38 PM
There are a lot of student in college who are there without knowing what they want to do, and what they are going to do after getting out of college. There are a lot of students who even before going to college, already have trouble figuring out what their future is. There are a lot of students who struggle in college without knowing what they are struggling for.
.................................................. .....................................
I am asking this question in a very general way, because a lot of FIRST students go to college knowing what they want. But I don't see the same for a lot of other students (ie. students who haven't participated in FIRST).


Ken, amazing post, and a great topic.

I went into college knowing exactly what I was going to do in life, which was to be a tech ed. teacher. However, I found out that while I still would like to teach some day, that it is not for me right now. I actually ended up dropping out of college because I was so confused on what to do with life and felt like I was wasting my time and money by being there.

It has been a year now, and I feel that this break from the education realm is actually exactly what I needed to get my life straightened out. Experiencing what it is like to work a dead end job full time has really given me the perspective of what I do not want to do with my life. With a little luck and some help through FIRST. I am going back to college next year with an attended major in broadcasting. It is amazing to think that even after being graduated for two years, FIRST can still help you out in life.

If I would have stayed in college not knowing what I was going to do for my major and with the rest of my life, I do not believe that I would have found my "calling". So here is my question: Do teachers/ education administration officials tell you to go to college and to stay in college when you have no clue what you are going to do just to make the university more money? As much as this seems like a cruel and evil thing to do, I believe that there is some truth to it. Believe it or not, it is a business, and ask any business owner(s) the true meaning of having a business and they will tell you that it is money. If they say otherwise than they are most likely lying to you (this is excluding a lot of mom and pop shops, I am talking more corporations here).
Yes, even public universities are businesses, that is why they have administration. They are there to recruit students and make the money to keep their college going.

To answer your question Ken, I believe that when I found out that my dreams and goals changed, that I feel extra hard. Yes there are guidance counselors, and some of them are very helpful, but it just isn’t enough at times. Their answer was to stay in college and that I should find something that interests me.

Ken Leung
04-23-2006, 02:38 PM
I would like to make the following observation to try to explain why what I observered earlier is happening. I would like to see if you guys agree.

#1 A student cannot be told to have a successful education, it MUST come from within that student's mind.

Ultimately everyone is in charge of their own life, and yet, through out a child's education, he or she is told what to learn, when to learn, where to learn, how to learn, and why. As soon as they enter high school, they are immediately faced with a 4 year plan of courses they have to take if they want to graduate high school and continue in a higher education institution. Along the way they have to do well in standardized testing, get good grades, as well as take AP classes and do as much out-of-school activities as possible if they were to have a chace at some of the more competitive schools.

I do not deny that there are necessary things in school that you must learn in order to be a successful human being. But by the time students are ready for colleges, they have been drilled by their education so long that that method of learning is the only one they know. I am, of course, making generalization here. There are many students who are able to decide for themselves what to learn, when to learn, where to learn, how to learn, and why. But, I do not see that anywhere near the emphasis of our education system. Students weren't told to think about why they should learn as much as the what, where, how, and when, and I believe that's a major problem.

Why you learning, to me, should be just as important a pirority any other things they teach in school.


#2 Students are different and each require different pace and different method when they are learning.

There should be no doubt about this. Some students are ready for college before they graduate high school. Some aren't ready even after they are already done with it. It is aparently to me that not every one is suitable for the whole elementary-middle-high school then a degree in a 4 year college path. It is aparent to me that some maybe more successful in a technical school or a job training school, while other will be great to move onto a master degree or a PhD. It is aparently to me that some need time to figure out what they want to do with their lives and some need more opportunity to see what paths they can take, while others do know their path since they were 12.

If it is aparent to me, why is it not aparently to the rest of the world? Why is the education system in general seems to only work for one particular kind of student and that kind of student only?

Well, I do know why. It's because it is expensive. Too expensive to have a small class room with teachers paying more attentions to individual students, it is too expensive to have a flexible system for many types of students, and it is too expensive to be doing all these things to inspire a child's mind and show him or her the huge world out there. It is also too expensive when school has to do a job that the parents, the government, the culture, and the world should've been doing in the first place. School cannot afford to do everything necessary to prepare a student for lives as an adult, yet the general idea is that that's what their job is.

#3 There are just too much to learn.

As soon as a student starts school, he or she must hit the ground running and try to keep up with the pace. In high school, you have to learn English, math, science (Physics, Chemistry, Biology), history, US government, foreign language, the arts, economics, physical education, and many more.

There are lots of important things to learn there, and one must be exposed to as many kind of classes as possible in order to gain a boarder prespective to the world out there. Only, that's not exactly what happened. Because there are so many things to learn, you must keep your head down and get ready for cramming and testing as soon as you start. There are so many information that you must hurry to start studying for everything before you have a chance to take a breath and look at what you are learning and why. There are too many to learn that there's no boarder prespective of all of these classes anymore.

Of course, it only gets worse at a college. Ever seen the amounts of degrees you can get at a pretty decent 4 years college? Arts and humanities, social science, and science and engineering. Each brach ready to grant you 1 of 100 degree if you know exactly what you want. Of course, within each degree there are emphasis, different ways you can approach the degree.


All these are very important. But what about the world outside? What about the fact that you can't learn everything and that there is no text book or standardized testing or answers in the back of the book when you go out? What about there is no right answers in many things in this world?

There are way too much to learn, and that's not including the fact that there is no set curriculum, no test, no book, no grades good enough to make you successful beyond those things.

That's the end game for education, isn't it? What happens after school when you are out there in the world picking up the burden the previous generation left behind for you? The goal is to have students ready to face the world and lead our society into the future after their education, isn't it?

plutonium83
04-23-2006, 05:27 PM
I read Paul Graham regularly and this thread reminded me of one of his essays, How to Do What You Love (http://paulgraham.com/love.html). It has a lot of insight on the relationship between work and fun (not mutally exclusive).

mhayon
04-23-2006, 08:15 PM
That's interesting, we were talking about something similar in my Advanced College Essay class. Part of the reason we have so many students in universities, apparently, is that after the baby boomer generation, there were a lot of people going to college post-war. This caused universities to expand. After that generation, there have always been many spots open at universities, and it has evolved into a bidding game-- the marketing aspect has gone up, and its no longer about receiving a true education. I don't know if this is true or not, but this is not the only view.

Taking this stance, my professor then commented "there are a lot of people at college who shouldn't be." I guess that's why more and more students are confused: there are more students in college just because they're expected to be, and less that are here for the pure pursuit of education.

Or maybe college opens up so many options that kids are in so much amazement that they don't know what to do. Maybe they wanted to explore one thing, but as time went on, something else looked pretty desirable.

About high school- a couple of my college buddies agree that high school was harder than what we're seeing in college. But I think it was important, kind of like, if you can do that, you can do anything. Also, I learned a lot of stuff I didn't want to learn in high school. But, there was some interesting stuff. I think high school is necessary to force all that stuff down your throat for the few things you do find useful, the few things you do remember, the few things you do want to explore.

Robyn Needel
04-23-2006, 10:36 PM
I went through this with my son who is now finishing his second semester in ME. You don't go to college to learn how to do a job - thats what technical institutes are for and most in this country suck. I told my son that you go to college to learn how to learn. In high school you're more or less spoon fed the basic subjects. You're told exactly what to read and you're lectured in class. The tests are nothing more than a chance to regurgitate the info back. In college you should be practicing the skill of research. By the time you graduate you should be able to teach your self. This is important because the one constant in your future is change. If you can't adapt and constantly re-educate you're self you won't thrive and prosper in whatever career you choose. You have 4 years of not having to deal with the real world. Find yourself, have a good time, explore your horizons, etc. and learn how to learn.

Hear, hear! I experienced a tough time finding myself in college, luckily ended up graduating only a semester behind (and in a field not even remotely like what I thought I wanted)...and my husband also had to find his way. So when it was time for our kids to choose their college paths, we told them up front that they would probably have some setbacks along the way, but that college gives one the tools you need to succeed in the world of work no matter what path you choose ultimately. We have found that college admissions people love undecided students, because they are open to new ideas and make confident decisions about a major faster than those students who come in so sure of their choices. Engineering poses a challenge, because in most schools, you must start with the heavy math and science right away...but if a student tries engineering and doesn't like it, it's easy enough to transfer the extra tech courses into elective slots for another major.

And I agree with what's been said before, not all kids should go to college - some don't want to right away, some just aren't cut out for the academic world, some have other plans for whatever their reasons...but that's ok. We desperately need service technicians, auto and other mechanics, and trades people in all fields - here is where students on FIRST teams have an edge, they have a lot of the skills that are needed out in the "real" world.

JaneYoung
04-23-2006, 10:39 PM
This is just a different perspective -
We have an 85 year old student at the university where I work. She has been enrolled for the 23 years that I know of and has amassed degrees and hours that I can only guess at.

She will joke and say the reason she stays enrolled is for the student health insurance. While there may be some truth to that, I think she uses the insurance to help her with the extra oxygen tanks that she needs while she follows her sherpa to higher learning.

She broadens the horizons for her classmates and for her professors every year and my thinking is that her high school education was probably a lot different than the high school programs that proliferate now.

Ken Leung
04-23-2006, 10:44 PM
This is just a different perspective -
We have an 85 year old student at the university where I work. She has been enrolled for the 23 years that I know of and has amassed degrees and hours that I can only guess at.


That is exceptionaly extraordinary! I can only hope that my mind is still lucid by the time I reach at age... That is an amazing way to live life.

Robyn Needel
04-23-2006, 10:45 PM
The goal of college is to get an education in a field of study that interests you. In the end, you likely have to go out and get a job so it is useful if the education serves this purpose as well, but if the education itself is not interesting to you a change of venue is in order.

One possible change of venue can be a change of major if you find that an alternative major stokes a fire in you. If your major is not doing that for you it is likely that any follow-on employment in the same field may not stoke a fire either, so a change in venue is all the more important.

If the rigors of college are something that you find unattractive enough to complain about, you should really consider an alternative. There are many career oriented "schools of specialization" that require only one or two years and that provide an attractive employment venue afterwards. There is nothing wrong with these alternatives if they are a fit for you.

I spent a great deal of time building electronic circuits as a teenager 35 years ago (many of these circuits used tubes), and went to college with a passion to become an electrical engineer. In spite of nearly straight As, I was quite bored with the general engineering curriculum and switched to Physics at the end of my first year. I learned, in college, that what I really had a passion for was understanding how physical things worked and I have stuck with it through a Phd, and ever since.

Actively hunt for your passion in college. Hunt your passion until you find a major that is so interesting that even a bad professor is not all that hard to bear. Find a topic of study that drops your jaw when you learn cool things.

For me, it was learning things like Maxwell's equations predicting the speed of light and why the sky is blue. For you, it is likely to be something different, but find your passion you can, and finding your passion is worth the effort that it takes. This is nothing new for today's generation. It has always been this way. If you can look back at your college days 30 years later, and still be thrilled at how cool the topic of study was, in spite of how hard it was, and still want to learn more about it, you are doing the right thing in college.

Seek out your passion, when you find it, it will be worth it...


What wonderful advice - I hope everyone here memorizes it. It seems to me that this is the real reason FIRST exists, to expose students to subjects and ideas that might inspire some passion that will in turn become a career choice and in turn change our culture for the better, which is part of Dean's homework assignments for us all.

Daisy
04-23-2006, 11:06 PM
I cannot give a perspective upon life after high school, for I am a junior in high school, but I do have some thoughts on college (parenthetically, I have only browsed through the responses so I do not know if this was noted, but I figured to post it anyways). Maybe, in my limited view, I am missing something, and am biased, or answering an off topic thread with and off topic response.

However it seems that college is a great chance that some people, in other regions of the world, really have to strive for, and not take lightly. In some regions of the world, there are not as great opportunities out there for them for something, financial or otherwise, is limiting them from furthering their education.

I have heard many people say about that they are going to college for the parties. I have heard people mention that they want freedom, but the same people not once mention a word about the education they will receive. So maybe, college does offer exactly what it says it does, and all colleges offer something really great, but some people decide not to take it seriously, and go on for the "fun". That is not a college's fault, but all those hormones that seem to take over, and to at least me, when infused into their brains make them go wacko :) .

So my answer to the question of whether or not colleges give false hope, is that they do not. It is all in what a person decides to do with the opportunity he is given. It is all on the amount of focus a person gives. And maybe even it is the other way around. Maybe, some people put false advertisements on colleges, labelling them of lower rank, when isn't college, not a name, but what you get out of it? and how good the professors you find are, and how you use their knowledge to the best degree you can?

Sorry if this was mumbo jumbo. I hope it makes sense to somebody somewhere, even if it isn't me :rolleyes: I also inserted a bunch of spaces. Hope it makes it a bit more readable.

Daisy

Robyn Needel
04-23-2006, 11:59 PM
Let us agree that the best college for us may not necessary the most competitive schools in the country, and let that be that. Jaine, I think you have a good point, one worth standing on, and you shouldn't feel bad expressing what you really think. There must be others out there who believe the same thing (I happened to be one of them).

Getting back to the topic, let me articulate my position further.

While there are many definition for success, for example, getting through a difficult challenge, exploring the world, getting a higher degree, learning how to learn, and finding your passion, which I agree are great achievements for any college students, I think it is more important to look at the flip side of them.

College CAN be many things for many students, but it CAN also be the following things to some students I know:

College is something they want to get over as soon as possible and want nothing to do with afterward.
College is a collection of cutting classes and missing as much work as possible and scrape by with the minimal effort.
School and learning are something they hate, and homework and tests are something they hate worse.
College is something they struggle with, have no idea why they struggle with, and something they don't know how to succeed in.

And here is the worst: College is something someone told them to go to.


I do not disagree there are many cases of success in colleges across the United States. I do, however, want to point out that it seems to me there is a raising feeling of not knowing what the point of college is among the students. I do not yet have any evidence to support this observation, other than observations I made from friends in my school. That's is why I raised this question, becuase I do not know all the facts (I doubt anyone does).

Do you agree, or disagree with this? Is our generation more aware or less aware of the point of college? And is the lack of this awareness the reason why so many students are struggling through college?


Ken,

I think that you are noticing these things because you are in college and are surrounded by students who are struggling and are questioning why they are there. I believe that too many school systems do not address their students' needs when they are children. Academic and career choices should ideally be presented to students starting when they are young, and coursework should be related to real world experiences. Unfortunately for many students, this is just not the case. By high school, they are bored out of their minds and can't wait to get out. Then they are told they must get good scores on the standardized tests and get into "good" schools in order to succeed, but success is not defined for them past that point.

Success involves self-actualization as defined by Maslow (see what I learned in college so many years ago?...lol) - once your needs are met, you want more - to feel like you are important in some way, have made a difference, to feel good about yourself, enjoy a good quality of life. College can help students learn to think for themselves by studying the thoughts and ideas of others, both past and present, by listening to many points of view, and intelligently challenging ideas. Cutting class wastes money and the chance to stretch one's mental wings. Learning takes place every day in someone's life, whether they are in college or not - maybe some college students don't want to learn what they are being taught in class, but I don't think they dislike learning in general. Struggling in college is common - as I've mentioned before, a lot of students aren't prepared, either emotionally or academically, for the rigors of college life and it's frustrating and disheartening.

As for your last comment, sadly I think it is true in many cases that there are students in college who were told to attend, but the reasons for the advice were not divulged. I can tell you from my personal experiences that college is like a finishing school ... graduates have a "polish" that enriches their lives in many ways, no matter what career they ultimately pursue. A college education enables a person to more thoroughly enjoy the company of people from all backgrounds (by understanding and appreciating cultural differences and similarities), to appreciate literature, art, music, travel, to hold their own in a spirited conversation no matter what the topic, to find their particular passion and learn how to learn.

It is true that there are many, many people who have a wonderful quality of life despite never having attended college - but college students are lucky. They have the luxury of the years they spend in school to grow, change and become the people they would like to be. I remember feeling a lot like those students you describe when I started college, but by the time I graduated, I was so different - I had learned how to set goals for myself, tested my limits, and really enjoyed most of the time I spent in school. The size and prestige of the school really has little to do with a student's success, it's more about the student knowing themselves and where they belong.

Robyn Needel
04-24-2006, 12:15 AM
That is exceptionaly extraordinary! I can only hope that my mind is still lucid by the time I reach at age... That is an amazing way to live life.


The thirst for knowledge should never stop, no matter what your age - my mom matriculated in and completed law school in the 1940's after having only 2 years of college ( an acceptable practice in those days). Many years later, when she retired in her '70's, my mother decided she wanted to finally get her undergraduate degree - she pursued and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Now, at almost 89, she studies and plays bridge, reads constantly, and is an avid supporter of FIRST :-)

John Gutmann
04-24-2006, 01:14 AM
The problem I take most notice of in college is the lack of quality education through innovative and creative means. Education has become boring and not very fun at all. Students sleep in class, or skip class, because they can't stand listening to a professor babble on through equations in a room with grey walls, fluorescent lights, and no windows. Professors are teaching how to calculate the way through designing the perfect screwdriver when half the students in the class haven't even held one.

This is a hands on generation. We don't like sitting in cramped little chairs with attached desks barely larger than a sheet of paper while being lectured at.

In many of my college classes, a 50% class average on a test would be considered normal. This is simply unnaceptable.

Education is failing. Nobody wants to stare at a board full of greek letters and complicated equations all day. Nobody wants to labor through a 1000 page math book solving hundreds of integrals. It isn't working. We aren't learning.

Education needs to become more applied and exciting. Right now, at least to me, it is quite boring.

This is what it is like in my highschool.

At the beggining of the year I needed 1 more credit. So I picked a class that would be easy, conceptual physics. haha, yes conceptual physics. The part that surprises me is that I would rather be in the conceptual class then be in then a normal physicis class. In conceptual physics we sit there for a class and learn this is this and that is that and to do this you use this equation. But the next class we do things that are hands on. We have periods of up to 3 weeks at a time where we just come into class, the teahcer talks for 2 mins then we are doing hands on things all class long. compared to the regents phsycis where they sit there for a week being lectured and get 1 class to do something.

This kinda proves the point that Jaine was making. Just because a school has a big name doesn't mean it is better for you. Yes if you go to a big school you may get a "better" (better being used very loosly here) degree. your degree isn't necessarily better, it just has a more recognized name on it. If you wanna go pay more for a better degree may get you a better job.

If you are going to a big name school because you want that degree with the fancy name on it so you can get a high paying executive position then you might as well go become a lawyer. (no offense, my dad is a lawyer and I don't even let him explain things to me)


Another reason that I dont wanna go to a big school like MIT ( though I wish I could use their facilities ) is that you pay more to pay the professors. At big school like that they put one teacher in a room with alot of people. (90+ maybe) so naturally that one teacher will get paid more for teaching more people and for teaching at MIT. So really what are you getting out of that, the teacher could careless if you learn. ( most anyways ) they wana go teach an getout of there. Not many of them will stay after class to show you this cool little thing-a-mabob they have. Or to help you with your own project. Or even help mentor a robotics team!

Now on the other hand if you look at the small schools, those professors aren't getting paid a whole lot so surely they must love their job. They must be doing what they love or else they would be teaching at MIT. And surely if they love their job that much it will carry through in how they teach you. Also not to mention a small class size and more likely more hands on things, more demos, better learning. ( you know the whole shabang)

THANK YOU COMMUNITY COLLEGE.......only for the first 2 years

sanddrag
04-24-2006, 01:34 AM
I like to feel proud of myself when I come upon a student who can solve any integral on the face of the planet, but who has never taken apart an engine, turned a piece of metal on a lathe, drilled a hole, installed an operating system, served a web page, typed a line of code, purchased a ball bearing, or otherwise.

FIRST gives you exposure to so many things that a majority of students miss out on.

JVN
04-24-2006, 08:25 AM
I like to feel proud of myself when I come upon a student who can solve any integral on the face of the planet, but who has never taken apart an engine, turned a piece of metal on a lathe, drilled a hole, installed an operating system, served a web page, typed a line of code, purchased a ball bearing, or otherwise.

FIRST gives you exposure to so many things that a majority of students miss out on.

You've been very dismissive of higher education in your last few posts, but I'm willing to bet that if you want to become an engineer, your future employer will care a lot more about your integral solving abilities, than your abilities as a car mechanic.

Practical knowledge is great, FIRST gives us gobs of it, but unless you put your nose down and learn the theory stuff, you're not going to be any use to anyone as an engineer. We always need to know "why".

-JV

edit:
I feel the need to clarify, after reading Greg's post below... I do not believe theory is everything, and that practical knowledge is useless. Those who know me, know this is DEFINITELY not true. However, I AM arguing that you can't be so dismissive of the theoretical parts of engineering. (No snide comments from my college roommates, please.)

Those who say "It doesn't matter that I am flunking Calculus, because I've gotten lots of experience in FIRST, and that's what will make me a good engineer" are TOTALLY deluding themselves. Stop lying to yourself, you're wrong. Take it from someone who has been there. I took Calc2 twice (I got a D the first time), after my father kicked me in the butt; the 2nd time I got an "A".

Sure, it is good to be on Baja, but if you're learning your integrals too... who cares?
/edit

Greg Needel
04-24-2006, 08:50 AM
You've been very dismissive of higher education in your last few posts, but I'm willing to bet that if you want to become an engineer, your future employer will care a lot more about your integral solving abilities, than your abilities as a car mechanic.

Practical knowledge is great, FIRST gives us gobs of it, but unless you put your nose down and learn the theory stuff, you're not going to be any use to anyone as an engineer. We always need to know "why".

-JV


John,
I completely agree that theory definitely is very important, you can't be a good designer/engineer unless you can determine mathematically that something will work or fail before there is alot of money invested the prototype/production line. That being said there is also quite alot of usefulness in knowing manufacturing processes and the "hands on" side of things. The truth of the matter is that you need to have a good balance of both. If you are strictly theoretical and design an "amazingearthchanging thingy" but it can't be built what is the point? On that same note you can't pretend that you are an engineer if you are just a glorified machinist. Learn the theory in the classroom and pick up the practical through clubs (FIRST, mini Baja, SAE). IMO you really need the scale balanced in the middle instead of heavy on one side of the equation.

Greg

Ken Leung
04-24-2006, 04:45 PM
As we are drawing to toward the end of this discussion, I want to thank all of you for your input.

Although I had to take a particular strong stand for the sake of discussion, a lot of it does reflect my true feeling about our education system. Part of my position came from the fact that ever since I've return to college after a long break, I've gained a new found appreciation of school. Unfortunately I’ve felt a bit lonely with my passion of learning because a lot of students around me do not share my passion. At times I find it more enjoyable sitting home reading about the structure of scientific revolution, or Descartes' meditation, or contemporary Chinese history.

College is hard for a lot of people. It should be hard because otherwise it doesn't mean anything. A while ago we debated the title of “engineer” because some believe anyone can be an “engineer” as long as “engineering” is what you do, while others believe you have to have a degree. I don’t want to revive that debate, although I do want to reiterate my opinion that it should be hard for people, otherwise it doesn’t mean anything.

Part of going to college is learning to think beyond the box you learned to put the world in when you were small, part of it is exposing yourself to people who do care about getting a higher education and doing something with it after they graduate, and part of it is a test, a training section to prepare you for adulthood.

Success in college can mean many things to many people, and what I was hoping to accomplish with this discussion was to bring some of those points of view out for the rest of you to see. I hope that after this discussion, some of you will realize that you are about to begin a very difficult journey, one where success isn't guaranteed, that is unless success is what you really want.


But surely "difficult" isn't going to stop any of you from trying, right? Good, because it's not stopping me from trying neither. I came back to college because of a dream, and I am not going to stop until I reach it.


Thank you for all of your input. Good luck to those of you competing in this week's Championship Event, and I hope to chat with you guys again about college, about decision, and our future.