College vacuum keeps us from finding a sense of purpose

Memories of high school are a hectic blur of homework, extracurricular activities, and AP tests. But at least high school students share a common goal: going to college. College was an exciting vision-a place that would provide intellectual independence, lifelong friends, personal development and hands-on experience.

Unfortunately, the vision changes once students arrive at college. People lose track of setting and get lost in a sea of other people. Everyone is going in different directions, and most are confused about whether they are on the right path. Fear of signing up for a major that will not be satisfying in the future is overwhelming.

College is hard. Students go to class, go to the dining hall and study for exams. Though this may seem simple, the hard part about this lifestyle is gaining a sense of worth, and not feeling mundane and bored. Students resort to the constant party mentality to combat thoughts of boredom, but also forget that there is more to college than just partying. Finding an appropriate balance between studying and partying proves difficult because some of the best memories formed in college come from going out with friends and living it up, and not from sitting in a study lounge for five hours. I don’t want to sound like a drone and say students should party less and study more, but we do need to find a purpose.

So who’s to blame for the lack of student motivation? Should I point the finger at my fellow students who would rather pick up a beer than a newspaper, or should I place the blame on the faculty? Many professors let students slip by and get decent grades without even showing up to class. Should the professors be reprimanded for making classes too easy, or should students be scolded for not taking advantage of classes they are paying for? Neither side should have to take all the blame.

Something needs to change. Professors should be engaging, and not rely on two exams a semester to determine the students’ knowledge of material. Professors should take the course material beyond the book. Maybe professors should bring interesting handouts from journals or connect the topic to current events.

There are also caveats in relation to the supervision given to college students by professors. Guidance should not be handed to students on silver platters; students need to discover what interests them for themselves. If class material is boring, look for books at the library or articles online that hold a higher interest value. Maybe even suggest these other sources to the professor.

There is life outside of college. There’s an eavesdropping scandal, a war, a political leader falling ill to a stroke and a constant rise in economic power for China and India. Yet, most students would not be able to name the president of China, the capital of India, or the differences between Sunnis and Shiites. Aren’t these things important, too? Someone needs to unplug the vacuum that sucks up fresh-minded 18-year-old boys and girls and spits them out four years later even more lost than they were before they came to college.

Karyn Meshbane is a sophomore majoring in neuroscience. She can be contacted at k.meshbane@umiami.edu.

January 31, 2006


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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published in print every Tuesday.