FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Going to College?

by

Students heading off to college for the first time or even to a new campus as a transfer are always full of questions. As an academic adviser at my university, I am happy to answer whatever a student or parent who accompanies their son or daughter might ask.  Most of the questions I have been asked, however, are related to the pathway to graduation and career opportunities thereafter.

While surely these are important areas for consideration, I believe that both students and their parents might benefit from asking a different set of questions that better gets at the real goal of higher education: to transform young people into people who can create a better world. To that end, I offer the following five potential questions that students and/or their parents should ask when they meet with academic advisers, university admissions staff, orientation leaders, or others with whom new students interact in their first few days. I briefly unpack each here, although surely many other extension questions can be appropriate as well.

1.    What is the classroom experience actually like? Will professors work hard to reach learners of all sorts?

This is essential, since we all know that people learn in many different ways. Since most of the education in the U.S (from K-12 through college) privileges verbal learners who can listen and take notes from which they study, this question is particularly important for those who require different teaching modes.

2.    Does advising focus only on coursework and timely graduation?

Some might ask, but what else would it emphasize? The answer is: A lot! If faculty members are the advisers, these sessions can be an important one-on-one mentoring session in which career and life tips are shared. Good advisers can help students understand not only how to prepare for their careers but also how to use the skills and knowledge they are obtaining to better their communities.

3.    Are there opportunities for students to interact with faculty and staff outside of the classroom?

Students can and should be offered opportunities to engage in campus and community service in which their professors are involved, as well as in research projects. These experiences not only add to students’ knowledge base but they also enhance their confidence and leadership skills.

4.    Is the campus safe?

Colleges and universities are responsible for creating safe educational spaces for students. This includes minimizing the risk that students will be harmed by some of the most common crimes occurring on campuses, like sexual assault and dating violence, but also that classrooms and other environments will be safe for students to express their beliefs and ideas without suffering emotional or physical danger. Is there any written campus civil discourse set of standards? Do professors protect that safe educational environment even when uncomfortable conversations are encouraged (for example, would a student be allowed to use a racial, gender, sexual, religious, or other identity slur)?

5.    Does the college or university celebrate the achievements of ALL students?

As a former collegiate athlete, I surely benefitted from the privilege many colleges and universities afford to student-athletes in terms of accolades. But much research has shown that the best educational climates are those in which different skills and knowledges are not only acknowledged but applauded. That means that colleges and universities must be equally excited, and share that excitement, when the Ethics Bowl Team, the Model UN, or other clubs, organizations, or students achieve at high levels.

I believe that advisers should be able to respond to each of the above. If not, it says a lot about the institution.  In sum, students, and the parents or others who support them, deserve an education that will not only teach but transform. It is my hope that perhaps this line of inquiry can help people determine whether a specific college or university is the best place for that to occur.

Laura Finley, Ph.D., teaches in the Barry University Department of Sociology & Criminology and is syndicated by PeaceVoice.

Laura Finley, Ph.D., teaches in the Barry University Department of Sociology & Criminology and is syndicated by PeaceVoice.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
Dan Bacher
New CA Carbon Trading Legislation Answers Big Oil’s Call to Continue Business As Usual
Wayne Clark
A Reset Button for Political America
Chris Welzenbach
“The Death Ship:” An Allegory for Today’s World
Uri Avnery
Being There
Peter Lee
The Deep State and the Sex Tape: Martin Luther King, J. Edgar Hoover, and Thurgood Marshall
Patrick Hiller
Guns Against Grizzlies at Schools or Peace Education as Resistance?
Randy Shields
The Devil’s Real Estate Dictionary
Ron Jacobs
Singing the Body Electric Across Time
Ann Garrison
Fifty-five Years After Lumumba’s Assassination, Congolese See No Relief
Christopher Brauchli
Swing Low Alabama
Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones
La Realidad: the Realities of Anti-Mexicanism
Jon Hochschartner
The Five Least Animal-Friendly Senate Democrats
Pauline Murphy
Fighting Fascism: the Irish at the Battle of Cordoba
Susan Block
#GoBonobos in 2017: Happy Year of the Cock!
Louis Proyect
Is Our Future That of “Sense8” or “Mr. Robot”?
Charles R. Larson
Review: Robert Coover’s “Huck out West”
David Yearsley
Manchester-by-the-Sea and the Present Catastrophe
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail