7 Ways Post-Secondary Education Can Improve (A Student's Perspective)
A Relatable Blog
1) Stop convincing us that University is better than College.
Growing up, I was always told by parents, friends, and teachers that University was better than college. I only heard about successful people that came out of University. However, after transferring out of two programs, one from a University and the other from College, I learned that there is no real benefit from being in a University as opposed to a College. I was able to say I was in University, but so what? Finding parking was still difficult, lectures were so packed you sometimes have to sit on the staircase even after arriving early, the professors don't get back to your emails on time, and you're still forced to take mandatory irrelevant courses based on theory. University graduates are still paying off their student loans years after they graduate, and they still struggle to get jobs related to the program they worked years for, which can happen just as often in College. I personally believe this is because of the lack of practicality, which I'll touch more on later.
2) Stop convincing us that earning a Degree is better than a Diploma.
This goes hand-in-hand with #1. I was able to say I was earning my Degree, but so what? The Degree programs I took in both University and College were so far out of scope from what I wanted to do that I almost forgot what programs I even applied for, all because I was convinced Degree programs were better. However, this can still happen for other certification awards. Along the way, I learned that employers mainly care about what you are capable of in the workplace in terms of meeting company goals, and who you are as an individual — not really what a piece of paper says.
3) Teach relevant and important course material.
This is the most significant reason why I believe post-secondary education can improve. I understand from a professor's perspective that they have to teach what they're told, but as an aspiring marketing student, I DO NOT care about solving for X. I do not care about how the brain works, or what happened in the previous wars, or how to reduce lead times, or the Matching Concept of managerial accounting, or how to speak Chinese. Sure, some out of scope background knowledge can be useful, but it isn't necessary to put it on tests and exams. Now you'll probably ask, "Why not look at the courses before applying for the program?" Well, I did; unfortunately, it's the only marketing program available and I don't have the funds to live far away from home. There is also still the same risk of another marketing program teaching out of scope course material. Everything that I learn should be useful and retainable information for the future, rather than stuff that I'll put away after I've written the exam.
4) More Practicality and Less Memorization
For the relevant course material, I feel like I'm back in high school where I was memorizing every single definition and piece of information just to write it out on a piece of paper. Instead, I should be understanding key concepts to then show how I would apply them in the real world.
Let's use sales as an arbitrary example; rather than defining what persuasive communication is in a multiple choice question, which contains answers different than how I would define it, why not instead ask how I would use persuasive communication to improve a sales pitch? It's practical, realistic, and you get a sense of how I think. Sure, it's harder and takes more time to analyze open-ended questions, but it's better than quizzing definitions and questions that can be answered on Google within a couple of seconds.
5) Relate quizzes, tests, and exams to what is taught in class.
Do you ever get questions that, when you read it, you say, "Huh? We learned this?" Now I'm the type of student that does his assignments, homework, and studying as soon as I get home so that I can work on my personal projects. So I'm not a procrastinator or a slacker when it comes to school, but when it comes to tests, I very often see questions that I know were not covered in class. So I'll message the professor, and the typical response I get is that the online questions were automatically generated and based off of textbook material. I don't believe it's fair having to learn the in-class material, as well as a 600-page textbook which isn't covered in class. The textbook should be used for additional information on a certain topic to better your understanding. The evaluations should be related to what's covered in class because that's where the student-teacher interaction takes place.
6) Allow students to use their electronics in class.
Some students are already tens of thousands of dollars in student debt. They also paid for laptops and smartphones to use various applications like OneDrive, Google Drive, and Microsoft Office to maximize efficiency in trying to take down notes in class. Many students without electronics go through the struggle of trying to listen to the professor while writing down notes. As long as they're not distracting anyone in the class, they should be able to use their electronics. If they decide to distract themselves by using technology, then it's completely their responsibility to catch up on missed information.
7) Change up teaching methods.
This actually applies to all levels of education as there are many teachers that never change the way they teach. It usually consists of talking for hours in front of the class with Powerpoint slides using a monotone or dull tone of voice (again, from my experiences). I understand that they're humans too, in that they get tired and have tons of work and marking to do. However, this just isn't a good enough excuse as students are just as tired and busy as teachers are. The problem is that every student learns differently, and by only using one teaching method is very unfair to the rest of the students. Some students like long and detailed lectures, some need visuals and demonstrations, and some need a lot of interaction — the list goes on. Unfortunately, I don't have a solution to this problem, I'm just addressing it for the school advocates out there.