Sunday, May 16, 2010

You're Responsible for Your Education

Whether you're a high school grad, or an older adult exploring a college career, please dig deep before making a decision that really does affect the rest of your life.

For example, there are many so-called universities out there that are for profit & as a result, they may not have your education as a top priority. As a former faculty member at NAU, I cannot recommend that school at all. It was my very 1st teaching job & I was told that I would be observed each semester by the Dean. I was never once observed my whole time there (2+ years). So - without any proof that I could teach, they let me loose to do my thing. Naturally, I like to think I can teach, but they shouldn't have taken that for granted. And they wouldn't have, if their students' education were actually a priority.

I taught Advanced Composition, and the students who came into my class had to pass Composition 1. Well, many of these students wrote papers without verbs in them. They didn't know what a topic sentence was. They didn't use spell check. How on earth did they pass Composition 1???

I also taught Speech. One important component in Speech is to get up in front of a group & give a speech. Another important piece is to provide feedback to those giving speeches. There was a student who signed up for my class & couldn't attend any of them. The Dean suggested that the student just come in and give their speeches to him & that I give the student a grade. I told the Dean that I couldn't ethically give a grade to speeches I didn't hear, nor could I let someone in the class who wasn't ever in class. It might have been different for a writing course, but for Speech, attendance was crucial to success. I believe the Dean passed the student anyway. I wonder if the student learned anything???

While at NAU, I noticed that MANY students were "encouraged" to take a full-time schedule of classes. For most, this was not a good option, they were working 1-2 jobs, were single parents, or just weren't ready to attack college full-time. At NAU, it seemed like all they were interested in was getting money & processing their students - the quality of education wasn't a concern. As a result, I think a diploma from NAU is a very expensive, useless piece of paper.

It may not be like this at all campuses, but this was my experience. My best piece of advice for you is to go to the places you want to work when you graduate & ask them how much value they give a degree from NAU. because in the end, you need to go to a school that is considered to be good by your future employers. Just ask: are graduates from NAU considered competitive in your company? What schools do you like to hire from?

And remember, you get out of your education what you put in to it. If you don't feel challenged, demand better. Schools are there to provide a service to you.

Good Luck!

1 comment:

chamath said...

I have heard similar sentiments expressed by people currently teaching at a for profit online university, who had previously had tenured positions at traditional universities. Their criticism was more of the online aspect but they were not too thrilled about for profit higher education either.

I think the problem with these for profit institutions is that they have a seemingly vocational focus and do not teach, practice value critical thinking. Then again I have heard professors at traditional universities also bemoan this as the fate of higher ed in general.

I am planning on going back to school and the schools I am considering are Goddard, which has a unique low residency cohort model and the California Institute of Integral Studies. I am looking at Masters programs but I am not ruling out the possibility of going beyond that...