Why Many University Students Graduate Disappointed
It’s no lie that a proper education in a certain field or profession is an invaluable asset. Being a specialist or expert on a certain body of knowledge or professional practice can easily lead to the realization of a career and the makings of a life-long profession, but education is not as simple as merely knowing more complex or essential information than a “lay” counterpart. For instance, one can read about the history of Western philosophy from the pre-socratics to the Enlightenment thinkers of the 18th century and even the modern philosophers of the late 19th and early 20th century, but this would not guarantee that you’ve been educated on the evolution and direction of Western thinking. The hallmarks of an educated understanding are not only knowing the informative details, but also having practical competence and fully comprehending the mechanisms of one’s particular subject or field of expertise. Unfortunately, with my experience in higher education, I have been familiarized with some disastrously harmful negligences and shortcomings of institutional education that permeate not just higher education, but the entirety of the education system that I have experienced. I will focus specifically on my experiences in attending a private university for this post, but most of these grievances are not exclusive to private colleges or universities. That being said, this is not meant to be a criticism of the education system in totality – because I’ve only experienced achievements and failures of the institutions which I have personally attended – rather, this is more of a critique of certain practices that institutions throughout the education system ought to avoid with suggestions for some they ought to implement or maintain.
Institutions should prepare all students for more than just accomplishing the requirements of their curriculum. Acquiring a degree alone is simply not enough. The certification of accomplishing the required course work definitely helps as a status marker and milestone achievement, but it is not guaranteed that someone with a degree is better equipped or prepared for professional work than someone without the same level degree who sought education outside of higher education. There are many ways for people to be educated, and I find that experience is the best teacher. Institutions can provide organizational resources, standardized subject material, and even professional guidance that would be either extremely difficult or impossible to gain access to outside of the institutional space, but many of these resources can be neglected or haphazardly provided if not taken absolutely seriously and equipped with caring, competent faculty and staff. Many bodies of knowledge and skillsets can also be developed without ever utilizing the resources of a higher education institution. To show that education is only marginally related to institutional schooling, Suli Breaks, a spoken word artist and YouTube content creator with 337,000 subscribers at the time of this post’s publishing, created the video Why I Hate School but Love Education which has received over 9.1 million views, arguing that “Education is about inspiring one’s mind, not filling their head.” Students who find that their major of choice is unfulfilling and that their efforts in college are more draining than helpful are often lacking this inspiration that can only be derived from pursuing one’s personal goals and values in a manner and environment conducive to growth, or suffering from the misdirection and negligence of the departments in charge of their curriculum. And this growth and personal development is not a ubiquitous focus of educational institutions as far as my experience has shown me. Having so many people proceeding in this way, being committed to a discipline or line of work they find unfulfilling, remaining in an environment that only serves to perpetuate the imbalanced values of a misguided status quo, and letting an institution that does not overtly express concern or provide guidance for its consumers’ development socialize millions of prospective workers, leaders, and creators, is negligent of our interests as a society at best.
Regarding the guidance of students, teachers and professors especially ought to reflect genuine interest and care for the development and education of their students. Not only is a proper education the foundation of a generation’s contribution to society, but these students make or break the future of their respective disciplines. The argument against pursuing a professional position, such as a medical doctor or lawyer, primarily for the higher earnings isn’t just about the moral implications of such actions, but also about the fact that it degrades the value of the discipline. Any educated musician would agree that the best music is not the most popular, and that much of popular music lacks the artistic intricacy and complexity worthy of recognition, let alone admiration. Almost anybody can make music, but it takes an educated musician to make good music. The fact that so many people consume popular music is due to their ignorance of the vast range of capabilities of the art of music and their complacency with consuming substandard products. Each discipline-centered business ought to view their practice like an art. The best way to practice the discipline is with impassioned diligence and love for the craft. Not only are you benefiting yourself, optimizing your skills and knowledge to achieve greatness, but you are benefiting everyone you serve by providing optimized service (which mindful consumers always love and respect).
With regards to education on the specifications for one’s discipline, teachers and professors are not just the medium by which students receive information, they are meant to be mentors. A professor ought to guide his or her students to not only become knowledgeable and competent in their discipline, but to also be ethical practitioners, for the sake of their business, its consumers, and the longevity and quality of their discipline. They should encourage students to find innovations for their practices and to evolve the discipline as they grow and evolve to participate in it. Education is very personal, and students should be encouraged to follow what they are most interested in to find and fit their niche in life. Inspiring a student and truly helping him or her to become a knowledgeable and masterfully skilled contributor should be the aim of every professor. People structure their lives around their interests and make their careers from them, so it would be best if there were strong emphasis for the students to care to do their jobs as best as possible, using their teachers and mentor as examples of passionate professionals.
Lastly, people’s education should not be treated disrespectfully as a potential for an institution’s administration to monetarily profit from the institution’s status. Higher educational institutions ought to be commended for their accomplishments in helping students to secure expert quality understanding and competence in their discipline throughout and after their matriculation, not in graduating the most students from a certain program or having a satisfyingly high retention rate while neglecting the quality of their service. Of course institutional education is a business and schools need the proper funds to provide what resources they can and adequately pay their faculty and staff, but the business aspect of the institution should never be its primary focus. Surely everyone would agree that a good doctor’s primary focus is to help patients maintain healthy lives using expert skills and knowledge they acquired for the sake of their profession. If that is not a doctor’s primary focus, patients would be skeptical of their practice and opt for any other options that seem to have the patients’ interests prioritized. A good service provider, no matter the service, ought to prioritize the optimization of the service over any other interest for the benefit of the service itself and the provider-consumer relationship. Otherwise, the service cannot guarantee having or being the best in quality, and it forfeits the only acceptable justification for consumers to accept their business. In terms of business efficiency, there is a very simple formula for assuring longevity and sustainability. Care enough about your work to provide your consumers a product worth consuming, and they will consume your products like a cultural practice. Negligence for the sake of short-term gain may draw more consumers for the time being, but people always evolve and innovate their systems. When it comes to business, you can either innovate, provide the better service and be loved for it, or your competitors will.