I appreciated the June 15 opinion column written by Jillian Aramowicz. It certainly touched a part of my personal concern about what is occurring in higher education these days. But I don’t know whether Aramowicz understands the “picture” that today’s undergraduate student presents to the larger public.
To be true, education is becoming increasingly expensive. Yet many students expect to live a lifestyle that was, in my days as a student, unexpected. I accepted that I didn’t need a car, I rarely went to restaurants and I did whatever I needed to do to keep costs — and therefore my debt — at a minimum. For the most part, the students I see today expect to live the lifestyle that was once only expected after you finished college. I’m fine with that — if the young people today want to put themselves in debt in order to have everything, that is their choice. But please don’t ask me to feel sorry for the choices these individuals make. I’m absolutely blown away by what many young people expect as their “entitlement.”
In terms of the instruction you receive in return for your tuition, faculty work really hard to keep costs at a minimum. If you are frustrated with language barriers, then get ready for more frustration. The work world you are entering will require you to be able to negotiate these kinds of differences. The faculty work really hard to integrate that diversity into the education you receive in order to prepare you for the work world you will enter. You need to realize that this isn’t necessarily easy for us. We care enough about preparing you for what you will encounter to invest in integrating this diversity into the university.
And in the end, it would be good for students to see themselves as consumers. Would you pay $10-15 for a movie that you never attended? Why pay tuition for courses that you never attend? If you see the courses as irrelevant, it might occur to you that you probably don’t really know what is relevant. If you ask most adults, they will tell you that they changed jobs several times over a lifetime and that skills they didn’t immediately see as relevant turned out to be critical. Trust that you don’t know everything.
Just make better choices. Let some features of adult life wait until you have your education. Assume that those older might know what kinds of information and skills that are important to your longer-term goals. View every opportunity to learn as a gift. As you get older and assume more responsibilities, those opportunities to learn grow more precious.