Regarding College Education

Regarding College Education

Scott Laue

The modern world has come to see college as a necessary part of  upper class life.  Once a high school education was deemed appropriate for business and many more jobs. Now, due to the level of specialization needed in many fields, a bachelors degree is considered necessary. One professor of mine impressed upon me the difference between a high school and a college education: the teacher. College professors tend to have doctorates in a myriad of subjects and knowledge to back their titles. However, they lack teaching training and will therefore teach in the best fashion they know.

For some, the teaching is excellent. Rather than merely imitating their predecessors (who have imitated their predecessors), they have studied not only their art, but aspects of education. These teachers are what make college a worthwhile experience, a combination of superior knowledge and a drive to teach well. On the other hand, there are professors that are fill-ins. They will drone monotonously over the material and when asked a question, divert the question to another subject to maintain their lesson plan, or simply sit quietly while a student tries to explain. These are classes to avoid, if possible. Any college education requires general education credits, and unfortunately some of these classes will have teachers like this. I encourage you to avoid them.

Taking a reputably harder class with a good teacher will be far more valuable than taking an “easy class” from a bad one. Therefore, I do not believe the quality of education in college always exceeds that of high school.

Before I came to Southwestern, I was an academy student who deeply wanted to go into chemistry. I’d taken my AP Chem class and enjoyed it, but I remembered one high school teacher that made a profound difference in my life: Alex Prouty. Sadly, he is no longer teaching, but English and history became interesting and enjoyable in his classes. Though I’d always been an avid reader, I hadn’t considered my current majors (and probably wouldn’t have chosen them) except for his influence. I suspect we all have a teacher that made a difference in our lives, and I’ll wager that a majority challenged us and we learned more.

A good teacher, whether in college or high school, or elementary for that matter, makes all the difference in education. So for those of you entering college, worried about your choice in life, I encourage you to find teachers that bring your subject from out of the textbook, even if it is more difficult. I personally can recommend a few teachers from both the English and history departments.

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