500 Words At A Time: An Old Person In Classroom, Observations

Why an old person, because with age comes experience and a different outlook or take on things than people substantially younger than…well, me. Twenty years difference is pretty substantial to me, after all just going by the numbers I have lived their lifetime already and have a second under my belt to boot. By no means am I suggesting that I am better due to my age, just that I see things differently.

On of the bigger differences I have noticed is I have a work ethic. Get the work done, do the work well (keeping prioritizing in mind), and don not wait until the last moment. For me, something I work for has more value to me than something given to me. This applies to college as well. While I want the professor to give me the information that they feel is valuable. I want to demonstrate that I not only can I regurgitate the information back, but that I can apply critical thinking to that information. Thus, I do not want particularly easy tests that are simple recitation of facts. I want to be able to apply the information. If I apply wrong, I want to know, that way I can learn.

As a rule, students do not want this. Exceptions are abound and prove the rule. However, the majority want information, assignments, and tests/exams handed to them. Critical thinking, even in the higher level classes is not as common as I would have hoped. Most students can out regurgitate factoids me, but it is the rare student who can out apply factoids. That makes me sad. I would rather be surrounded by thinkers who challenge me; who cause me to up my game. Instead, I routinely find myself surrounded by students who:

  • grub for grades and extra points
  • do not do the homework or do not do the homework well
  • do not take notes
  • do not ask questions, even on some of the most complicated of subjects
  • do not read assigned reading, a funny sight, to me, is watching students read in class to be able to score those valuable “participation” points
  • do show up, but spend their time texting, Facebooking, shopping or other activities which could be done outside of the class
  • do show up and fall asleep (this happens far more frequently than I would have ever guessed)
  • do not show up to class and wonder why they are failing the class
  • do contribute, for those “participation” points, but say whatever is on their mind, often not as “cool” or “smart” sounding as they thought

No, I don’t think this generation will be the doom of us all. I do think that this illustrates my thought that not everyone needs to or should attend college. I am not worried about the future, the cream typically rises to the top. Five years of being around and watching students really has me convinced that students are getting some wrong information.

There are people who are not ready for college. They should not attend until they are ready. There are people who may be ready, but college is not for them-personal reasons or their career path does not NEED a college degree, these people should not be told college is where it is at. Unfortunately, college seems to be sold as the “cure all” for your future needs. It is not. It will never be.

Which, at times, makes me feel for students I see who are obviously not ready for college, even this college, or who are here for the wrong reasons. I see people who in a few years may graduate with nothing more than a piece of paper and a bill they will never pay off.



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