My wife Denise and I just dropped off our daughter, Christina, at college. She attends Butler University and had to be back early because she’ll be a Resident Assistant this year and was starting her training.
Also our son MD will be a junior at Calvin College. He ran for and was elected Vice President of the Student Senate and is at school completing his summer job as well as beginning his “Student Senate” work.
We’re excited about the growth and learning opportunities these experiences will provide our two college students. We appreciate these opportunities because both Denise and I benefited from similar experiences while college students. And the truth is (I maybe committing educational heresy to say this) I learned and grew more as a person through my extra-curricular involvement than I ever did in the classroom
But it’s also why we should be worried about the continuing rise in the price of a college education. Sky rocketing costs have caused both individuals and schools to make drastic changes in how they approach and deliver a college education and the campus experience. Such things as on-line classes, reduction in funding for “student life” programs, more students living at home or in cheap apartments, have all robbed many young adults of these precious opportunities (such as being an RA) to learn the “life lessons” that can only be had outside the classroom.
And for many of these lessons, the college campus is the best environment to learn them. Where else in the world can you try new things, make mistakes with limited down side, and discover one’s passion and giftedness while being supported by an institution whose mission is to educate you?
If education and learning is our real goal (and not just stream lining earning a diploma) then we need to figure out how to make the full college experience available to as many of our citizens as possible. Diplomas and true learning are two different things and we can’t afford, in the long run, to see them as the same. If we do, both our kids and our country will suffer.