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"I believe that education is the civil rights issue of our generation." – U.S. Secretary Arne Duncan, October 9, 2009

Archive for the tag “university”

Post-Grad Concerns? Keep Calm and Dream Big

Having only two quarters to go in my college education, I’m slowly becoming nervous. It’s hard not to be concerned with the massive amounts of news stories on low employment rates and stories telling how total student loan debt has surpassed total credit card debt. When my parents were my age, they already had jobs, me, and a home, so why can’t I be independent too? Ah yes, we are in quite a different era. Back then, college was the above-and-beyond, but now it’s the norm for one’s education and it has made my generation’s lives drastically different from the one before.

I don’t particularly like this. I just don’t want to be thirty, still living with my parents, and still trying to pay back loans; I want to get my post-education life started!

In a perfect world, I’d have a job lined up to roll right into after I graduate, and move into a place of my own. I’ve been in school for what seems and eternity, and I’m anxious to obtain the outcomes I’ve worked hard for all my life. Is it so wrong to want that? No, but my eagerness warrants some attention. Only I can make this dream happen, and I have to delay gratification for some more years in order to do so.  Yes that means putting down the IKEA catalogue, saving money in the bank, building a network, building a resume, and getting a good job under my belt.

It looks like I’ll have to rely on my parents financially a bit longer. I’ll be leaving college with a bachelor’s degree, but with an accumulation of student debt along with it. This has always been in the back of my mind—the debt, it’s scary. My father always just tells me to focus on my studies, not to worry, and that my job will pay off my loans.

But will I find a job, and if I do, how soon?

Here is my plan. As always, it’s good to remain optimistic yet be smart about it. I know the likelihood of a job landing in my lap in very slim, so I’ll need to be prepared to apply and interview at several places, and be prepared for the fact that this may take some time.

While my post-graduation future seems almost entirely out of my control, the truth is, the future really does lie in my hands, just as it’s always been. In high school I earned straight A’s to get into an excellent university, and I ran miles and miles to earn a spot on the start line at the track and field state championships. I’ve made my own luck in life and I will do it again. I just have to keep dreaming big and continue being the determined, go-getter that I am. Just like someone once told me, how I’ve achieved my success in the past is a reflection of how I will achieve in the future.

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The Combat Against Cheating: Forever a Game of Cat and Mouse

I recently heard from a friend that students occasionally pay someone to walk into their lecture hall and take their finals for them. For starters, I can’t imagine anyone willing to take such risks, getting away with the crime, and that the faculty administering the tests fail to take precautions. Secondly, it’s astonishing that students can become so desperate as to rise to such dishonest conduct.

Academic dishonesty was brought to my attention once again when I read Online Classes See Cheating Go High-Tech, which quite frankly, spurred some feelings of resentment. The fact there are students who have cheated their way through school and get to bask in the glory of claiming a degree makes me furious. I’m going to be completely honest–I’ve worked very hard in my academics in hopes that one day I’d get the job of my dreams. But if I am up against someone for a job who has falsified their education, and they get the position over me—that is messed up!

So I was pleased to hear from the article that there are people out there who have recognized this problem and are coming together to combat academic cheating. Programs have been designed to catch plagiarism and are continuously being refined. Additionally, efforts are currently being made to advance the security of online courses. Innovations such as requiring students to login by taking a photo of themselves via web-cam and the development of programs that analyze typing styles are also being explored.

It’s great that people are working to fight this problem, however, I have concerns over whether their efforts will yield positive, sustaining results. Students are smart, share cheating techniques with one another, and can become desperate enough to put in time and effort to crack anti-cheating technology. I fear that the clash between cheaters and those who attempt to combat against them may forever be a game of cat and mouse.

Pressures of Education—Contributing to Mental Disorders?

As an avid psychology student, stumbling upon Prozac Campus: the Next Generation was like finding that the last piece of chocolate cake in the back of my fridge (score!). Well you must think I have much to say about what appears to be a current epidemic in the deterioration of student’s mental health—I do! As a student myself I can concede that academic pressure is on the rise. I’ve worked my tail off since day one in kindergarten, and yes, I was always the student in intro to art who stayed afterschool to finish their color wheel. Why strive for such perfection? I suppose that I always felt like I needed to give myself a competitive edge so that I could get into the college of my choice. According to the article, my feelings may not be unrealistic, where students are met with more rejection by colleges today than they have in years past, alluding to the fact that college admission involves fierce competition.

This competition and academic pressure to get into college is only just the beginning; it spills over into our college experience and us students struggle to maintain perfection. So what does this all mean for college students? For me, as I am sure it is for most other students it means emotional difficulties—wait, no, that is far too simple and hardly captures what really goes on behind the scenes. My attempt to adjust to college life as a freshman constituted of tears, feelings that my efforts never paid off, homesickness, test anxiety, not to mention the weekly rounds of therapy with Häagen-Dazs.

Today, it is all too common for students to pathologize symptoms such as stress, feelings of loneliness, and anxiety that are nothing more than natural consequences of the challenges and pressures they face in life. The author of the article makes the point that students fail to openly discuss their feelings which leads them to believe that they are alone in what they are experiencing. Such beliefs may lead them to think they are suffering from a mental disorder.

If students openly discussed their feelings and confided in others, perhaps it would reduce this supposed rise in mental disorders. To help students communicate these feelings it may be beneficial for colleges to offer and encourage students to actively participate in groups where they can learn that their feelings are mutual among others. What are some other ways in which we can assist students’ psychological well-being?

Societal Beliefs on Education and Success: Harming Student’s Futures?

“Graduating from college makes one successful.” Society holds such an assumption, but is it true?  The article Why We Need Vocational Education explores this common belief.  Mark Phillips claims that today people in America place great importance on graduating from high school and getting into college, seeing it as sign of success and the guarantee of a bright future. I’ve been influenced by this belief myself, though I may have been unaware of it at the time. It was always assumed that I’d go to college; it was just what everybody around me strived to do and I did the same without much thought to alternative routes. Any decisions other than going to a four-year university seemed risky.

College no doubt has benefitted me. I may not remember J.B Watson’s impact on the field of psychology or what role serotonin plays in certain mental disorders. These are facts that may be long forgotten years from now. But what will always stay with me are the skills that I have acquired from my experiences. Through college I’ve enhanced my ability to communicate effectively, developed an awareness of multiculturalism and diversity, and honed my ability to think critically. Such skills will contribute to my success in my future career but will they entirely account for my success? This is where I disagree with society’s assumption that college makes one successful.

I’ve realized that my education has provided me opportunities but shut out others. College has stuck me in the corner of the library, put my nose in a textbook, and shielded me from the real world. This is somewhat ironic when I consider that I’m learning about the “world”, and this notion concerns me. Since my education is supposed to prepare me for the real world, I wonder why I’m not out in the real world gaining experience and applying what I’ve learned. Does anyone else share this concern and if so what should we do about it?

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