How, Not Where

“Where You Go to College Doesn’t Matter” from Forbes Online

In a Forbes article from March 2009, author Joie Jager-Hyman explores a question common to high school students:

Should I go to the school with the best reputation and big name, or will a smaller school get me to my goals just as well?

That big name often means big tuition costs, as private schools have to charge closer to full sticker-price for an education; state schools get their expenses off set, to some degree, with state funds. Is an “elite” university worth the cost?

Jager-Hyman says not necessarily:

Certain programs or majors may offer fantastic experiences within different campuses–and you might be better off in a school whose curriculum that meets your needs than in a school with a big name. But what’s most important in the quality of your college experience is your willingness to engage in your education, commit to learning and actively take part in classes that challenge you.

I’d like to highlight her last sentence. It doesn’t matter where you are so much as what you make of your time in college.

Have you committed to educational excellence, or do you do just as much as is required–the minimum–to get a passing grade? Are you challenging yourself or waiting for a class to be offered by an “easier professor”? Do you come to class prepared to listen and discuss, or do you spend more time with your phone, laptop, or friends?

Too often, college students, worn out by heavy course loads, piles of assignments, jobs, and relationships, focus on getting by and getting out rather than gaining a real education. And it can be really, really hard to absorb material when you have 20 chapters to catch up on and would like at least 2 hours of sleep that night.

“Once I have my degree, it’ll all be good,” students may think. That degree needs to be backed up with great communication skills and the ability to demonstrate mastery of the degree field if they even want to get near the employment door these days, much less insert a foot.

Photo of 2010 graduates of Agnes Scott College

Courtesy of Agnes Scott College's Flickr stream:

You probably hear or read a variation on this all the time, but do you REALLY pay attention? Your professors don’t say these things to scare you; we say them because they’re true. Many of us work in areas where exceptionally talented teachers go without full-time jobs for years and years (I have a friend from graduate school who’s going on 8 years without a regular position), simply because the market is so tight and the applicants so plentiful that employers can afford to pick the top 0.01% from the resume pile.

We want you to succeed. We love that you chose PVAMU for your college education, and we want you to dazzle your future employers. They don’t want people who “just did enough.” They want superstars.

So…how brightly do you shine?


2 thoughts on “How, Not Where

  1. chelle10

    Really, Really…Extremely good point Dr. Wakefield! I will difinitely take this into consideration while I am continuing on in my education.

  2. Robyn Shields

    I like this blog. It concentrates on how well the candidate is for the job rather than how known the candidate is. As a panther, I always ask myself, would my future credentials be well enough for a teaching position; in which I’m competing against many other worthy candidates from well established universities? Although I do not let this question determine my outcome as a future educator; however, it distracts me when I’m actually putting the time and dedication into learning for my benefits.


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