Amazed and Encouraged

Students continue to amaze me. With so much talk about whether or not college is worth the costs, I would guess that if four students at a private university costing just at $60,000 a year, not counting all the ancillary expenses of involvement and stuff students “have to have,” were asked if the mounting costs of a college education outweighed the benefits, at least two of them would say “Yes” the costs outweigh the benefits.

One reason I would guess that students don’t see the great benefits of college is because in the new book by Jane Fried, Transformative Learning through Engagement: Student Affairs Practice as Experiential Pedagogy, I believe I read that many students think that what they are learning in the classroom is irrelevant and disconnected from the real world, and that after they complete their courses they will learn what they need to learn in order to get a job or whatever else their goal might be.

In the Wake Forest University student newspaper, students on the Quad were asked just this question, and four out of four students in the class of 2015 said that a college education was worth the money. What were their reasons?

  • The job market is so competitive.
  • The wealth of knowledge we will gain make it worth it.
  • Despite the debt, the payoff is tremendous.
  • Education is important for the future of America.

It is so encouraging to hear these kinds of comments from today’s college students.

Students continue to amaze me. When I was sharing my thoughts during a speaker series at Wake Forest University, I was describing the context of the world in which our graduates will have to survive and hopefully thrive. I referenced the chaos, uncertainty, and disruption ahead, and I quoted Robert Safian from his Fast Company article on “Generation Flux” where he said students will have to “embrace instability” and “enjoy recalibrating their careers.”

I thought this would terrify the students, and I would guess that some of them were anxious in hearing this, but one student raised her hand and said, “What’s the problem with having to recalibrate and be prepared for disruption and chaos? I look forward to it and think it’s exciting!” I wanted to hug her and hold her up as the model to emulate! Is this kind of thinking and attitude amazing or not?

Student affairs can help students prepare their mindset to adapt to new situations, to continue to learn new things, and to see the world through the lens of an optimistic and competent generation. What some see as disruption will be just another challenge to meet and overcome for our graduates. I’m so encouraged.

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