MassTLC, UNCON2014, unConference

unCon 2014 Session: Is Attending College Worthwhile?

By: Jiyoung Jeong

Led by Sterling
one of the few high school students at the Innovation unConference today,
Sterling raised an important—yet rarely asked—question: “Is attending college
her session, she noted that many students, at first enthused to experience
college, actually find their college academic life uninteresting. When she
asked the group’s opinion on that issue, many responded that a college’s
challenging classroom environment, nonetheless, teach students “how to think
critically.” They went on to highlight the value of critical thinking; one
participant mentioned that she, like many others, largely consider an
applicant’s critical thinking abilities when hiring.
session members also pointed out the importance of network that colleges allow
students to create. All of them agreed that connecting with others in such a
“unique place” has allowed them to nurture various relationships both during
and after college; one participant noted that college acts as a “cultural
reference point.” He further noted that most people ask others what college
they attended not to gain a sense of their intelligence, but to network; for
example, long after graduating from college, a woman who graduated in 1994 may
unexpectedly meet another who graduated in 2003— and they may get to make other
acquaintances through each other. He pointed out that, in a society where work
and opportunities chiefly rely on connections, the ultimate value of attending
college—although extremely pricey— is excitingly unpredictable.
should all students attend college right after graduating from high school?
Most of the session group members brought up the option of gap year. “Find the
path [you want to take in life] before paying that money [for college],” one of
them advised. Many agreed, saying that having a clear goal in mind before
attending college is crucial. These days, many students opt for college without
knowing what they would like to do career-wise. With the huge growth in college
attendees, many high school students are pressured to attend college “just
because.” Although one member mentioned that attending college actually helped
him define some significant life goals, the general consensus was: people that
have clear goals, dedication, and focus are the ones that can get the most out of those expensive
session also touched on the importance of finding the “right school.”
Participants stressed that, for a student, colleges’ names shouldn’t stand as
the main problem; instead, the questions that they should ask are, does the school fit me? Can I fully apply myself in various areas at
this institution?
 A participant
encouraged having flexibility during both the application process and the
actual school life. “You’re [never] stuck,” he said; no matter what college one
starts at, he or she always has the choice to drop out or transfer, if the college
experience isn’t quite rewarding.
the end of the discussion, Sterling asked the group members to raise their
hands if they felt that they had gained crucial academic skills by attending
college. Surprisingly, although nearly all of them had spoken positively of
attending college, only about forty percent of the group raised their hands.
Truly, the most significant value and reason for attending college may not root
in the classroom material—but in the diverse relationships that college
environments nurture. 

Upcoming Events


Related Articles