What is it like to be a student today?

Having just completed my first year in college I can say it was vastly different from my high school experience, but I can’t say that it was up to par on my expectations. My favorite part of the college curriculum was how much of the responsibility  of classwork is left up to the student. I am enrolled in the art school at VCU and therefore would expect a different type of learning than most students. I decided to attend a liberal arts school for the reason that I wanted an education beyond the arts. VCU makes that very possible so I am pleased with that. I plan to major in illustration, minor in writing, and complete the da Vinci program, which focuses on product innovation through combining the business, art, and engineering schools. But I was a little disappointed after finishing their Art Foundation program. There are countless teachers that come and go through this program and the class structure is really left up to them. Therefore what you learned depended upon who taught you. I wish I was taught more skill based and technical ideas. We were judged on our ability to complete projects on time and creativity, but not so much technical skill, which will come in handy later on in our artistic careers. I definitely came from one of the more well off high schools and communities that the book described.  My parents are making it possible for me to have the education that I am attaining, without them, completing high school and attending college would not have happened for me. My high school was well equipped with tax payers money and no one in my town was struggling financially. This allowed most students to achieve for higher standards. It was a competition in my school of grades, who was accepted into NHS and the best schools. We didn’t have to worry about having enough computers or textbooks ever, in fact we had an abundance of technology and plenty of money set aside for sports teams. So my experience is like the one described in our book of a wealthy town with an equally wealthy school. The students that graduate from there, which almost everyone does, will become successful with the tools they were provided due to their upbringing. I am fortunate enough to have parents who were able to set aside a savings for me to go attend college. I won’t ever have to worry about debt like so many of my peers do. This will allow me to focus my efforts on my education as utilize my resources to the fullest. It scares me that the jobs that will be available when we graduate do not even exist yet. I find it fascinating to think about how we will keep up with this and what is the point of learning for jobs that will not be relevant when we are ready to take them. This brings up the point that google made about “majoring in learning”. This idea really resonated with me. There are so many things that school cannot prepare you for and something new is always around the corner. It is extremely important to put an emphasis on this and encourage students to learn how to learn. I feel as if we are expected to know how to complete are assignments they way they want, we are given tasks to complete but are not taught how to complete them. Our learning then becomes so specific and focused in one area that it only weighs us down in the long run. I believe teachers should constantly challenge the rigid structures of the curriculum and think outside the box, challenging the norms, etc. In the text, it describes that social and economic inequality are necessary, even if everyone had an equal education, the value of a college degree would drop immensely and there would be no one to complete the necessary jobs such as serve coffee or clean the streets. The schools unknowingly reinforce this idea of inequality. I find this fact interesting that even though schools promote equality and want to help all children have a chance at a good education, it is necessary for this to not be true. They do this through the lack of resources that some schools have as compared to the excessive amounts that others own. They also sort the schools by social class, coincidentally it ends up that way through which town and district you are in. The reading also spoke of schools having a hidden curriculum that taught kids about morals and other life lessons. I have definitely witnessed this during my first year at VCU. I have grown immensely as a person through my own experiences alone and witnessing the lives of other students around me. The majority of this occurred socially, especially living in a suite of eight people. There is so much more to school than just the textbook and that is what is most important to me. Every day there is a lesson to be learned that might have nothing to do with mathematics or english, etc. As a student today, I see how the world is rapidly changing and how we must quickly adapt to it, I see how being born into a certain family may determine your future just by luck. I believe that your education is what you make of it and that anyone can learn anywhere as long as they apply themselves. You are in control of your future.

One thought on “What is it like to be a student today?”

  1. I like the way you moved back and forth between your experience and ideas from the readings. Nice balance.

    I’m not sure I followed your point about inequality, though. For example, you mention the often-quoted line, “your education is what you make of it.” But this comes immediately after you’ve just described how economic inequality shapes very different educational experiences and you note, ” I see how being born into a certain family may determine your future just by luck.” Aren’t these starkly contrasting–perhaps incompatible–ideas? Can students in poor schools really just make a great education on their own? Did you? (Or did you receive considerable assistance, given the resources to which you had access?) All interesting questions that get at the heart of a sociological analysis that looks skeptically at the idea that we are simply individuals completely responsible for our own fate.

    (Please use paragraph breaks in your posts to make them clearer and more readable. Thanks.)

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