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Eugene Frier

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How can we best engage college students in the idea of learning instead of just getting a degree?

I work at a 4 year, public university and I see a great deal of students who come to school to get their degree (which they equate to money/success) and do not care about learning. What are your thoughts on the best way to engage them in the actual process of learning. I have my thoughts, but would love to hear my fellow TEDsters thoughts.

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  • Mar 17 2013: YES!!! I'm a little crazy about this question because I'm still stuck in the middle of it so I admit that is a bias. IMHO I think the problem in general is that school gets in the way of learning instead of facilitating it. There are three suggestions I have.

    1. Adopt technology. Its just the way we think and work and it will facilitate everything else we need to do.

    2. Allow more flexibility. Yes there are a lot of interesting things in the world but I only have so much time and so maybe I want to spend more time learning about genetics and a lot less thinking about something someone else thinks is a worthy subject. If you do this people will be more interested because they can tailor their individual major and it would be even better to be able to tailor individual classes.

    3. Focus on skills. In the end the biggest thing I want from college is the ability to actually do something. Sometimes I wonder if I would have been better off if I could have just gotten an internship or apprenticeship that would have actually taught me an actual skill. Even complicated things can picked up in this manner. The most useful experience I had was volunteering in a research lab.

    I'm not sure about the details but I do know that I feel like college sucks the excitement out of learning, even subjects that I love. This needs to change and I'm willing to make a big push for this.

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