In today’s world, it’s believed that success in life depends primarily on good education. Therefore, millions of students in the USA (as well as globally) rush into higher education establishments every year, with the hope of better life prospects. That sounds romantic, doesn’t it? However, not everything is as pink as it seems: students often have no clear idea of their future profession or desired social status; neither do they have a clear understanding of what the learning process will be at a college level. Based on experience, research, and interviews with specialist in higher education, in a recent article, authors Leo M. Lambert and Peter Felten discuss the issues and problems encountered by students:
“Many students arrive in college without a clear sense of purpose or direction. That is to be expected. A significant part of the undergraduate experience, after all, involves grappling with big questions about professional, personal and civic identity. Who am I? What do I want to do with my life? How can I contribute to my community and the world? The best students pursue these questions with vigor.”
In order to help young learners overcome these obstacles, Leo and Peter suggest that there are two factors which are of paramount importance to having a fruitful university experience – responsible learning and building meaningful relationships.
According to the authors, the process of learning is not passive – knowledge is not water poured into a glass. It’s an active process of which students must be an inseparable part; they must be proactive and creative.
“Too often students (and others) think learning is a simple process of taking knowledge from the professor during class and then returning it, unharmed, on the test. Real learning – that is, learning that makes a significant and lasting change in what a person knows or can do – emerges from what the student, not the professor, does. Of course, professors are critical actors in the process, but students are the ones doing the learning.”
Meaningful learning emerges from a proactive conception of knowledge, where the student’s goal is to experiment with new and unexpected ways of using what he or she is learning in different settings. This requires students to see themselves as the central actors in the drama of learning.
A man is known by the company he keeps. This is not only an English proverb, it’s a time-honored convention. The relationships you build during college could be crucial; they can often shape the future of a student.
“The relationships students form in college also have a profound influence on their experiences, shaping not only who they spend time with but how they will spend their time. When scholars asked graduates at Hamilton College to think back on their undergraduate years, these alumni pointed to specific individuals (often professors, coaches or classmates) who shaped their paths.Students typically think first about relationships with peers. These are essential, of course. Finding friends and cohort groups can be reassuring, but scholars have found that students who interact frequently with peers who are different in significant ways (racially, ethnically, religiously, socioeconomically and so on) show more intellectual and social growth in college than those who don’t.”
We agree that building meaningful relationships and being a responsible learner are one of the most important factors to a successful college experience. And if they are the main ingredients of the “meal,” we need to spice it up with something else – humor. This is often what makes the difference.
Colleges and higher education institutions are not only places where you can acquire knowledge and decide on a profession. Often, these are places where one meets their lifetime friends, builds their character, and has the time of their life. Using a little humor to spice things up will not harm you; on the contrary, it can help you find meaning when you can see none; it can help you overcome obstacles when everything else has failed to do so; it will make your memories even brighter and more memorable. Simply enjoy your time in college. It works!
The child who is ‘left behind’ most is the one who leaves school without transition readiness.