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Is Higher or University Education killing or building dreams slowly? What should students expect when progressing iinto higher education?

Why would most top universities aim to accept top grade earners from high school with the intention of kicking them out after the first/second year at the university? Quite often by making the structure of the curriculum unnecessarily hard.

This realization comes from few first year students who were top grade earners from high school and now were kicked out of the university for not meeting the standards, which of course is the GPA faculty requirements. I wonder how these " I need to at least pass, get an A, just get a B" attitude intend to prepare these students for the future.

Universities are beginning to reverse the meaning of earning a university education, and in turn killing the creativity of the intellectual minds of students.

It is not that these first year students did not make the efforts to keep up with their grades, but if the focus in the minds of these students has been or is still "I need to at least pass, get an A, just get a B", how does this motive help a lot of students (future leaders/ world-contributors) affect the world when universities encourage these students to "shoe-box" their ideas by nurturing the mentality of " You need a certain grade to get into a certain program".

Universities intend to keep their "name" (reputation) and still make more money off students, especially International students, whose parents are still struggling to give them the best and some look up to these top universities as a guardian for their children. This, arguably has indefinitely caused high suicidal rates.
Even if the university is a money making industry, shouldn't these universities think to start re-evaluating this perspective they are choosing in working with the first year university students? many "could have been" Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, and Martin Luther(s) are been lost in the process of achieving a university education. So that other students are not surprised but prepared, what should they keep in mind before going into universities?

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    Nov 25 2013: As a musician, the university gave me the experience, training, and skills that I needed to achieve my dreams. When I graduated, the economy collapsed and suddenly my dreams changed. Education opened incredible doors to me that gave me skills to do what I have done today, from film scores to an oratorio, albums, and my first opera this year. Not the path I initially expected of being a music professor.

    I still teach some at the university level, enough to keep my mind fresh and to interact with the next generation of earthshakers. What I see is a little disheartening. Students entering college so ill-prepared that they can't write an essay, don't understand basic questions, and can't manage life, let alone schoolwork. The high schools that couldn't prepare them for college expected them to go to college.

    By now I am sure that it is obvious that college is not the only path to success. It is a disservice to expect everyone to be academic material or to award everyone a degree. I have students pursuing English degrees and I tell them to go write a book and self-publish it now. They don't need a degree to write. Some fields need intense training, others just need skills, and some just need strength or managerial skills. By expecting that every person in society needs to have a degree makes the degree worthless and makes for many crushed dreams. Right now in the US there are plenty of jobs available at upper management typically "manufacturing" related fields where a college degree is helpful but not always necessary (ex. oil rigs, - info from the Best Jobs in the US series, can't find the exact title).

    I believe in the university system when it encourages creativity and provides necessary training. Students just need to be sure that they are ready and that they the college they attend provides what they personally need to succeed. Unfortunately in today's market, everyone has a bachelors, and even a masters doesn't guarantee job stability. So choose wisely.
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      Nov 25 2013: very well articulated about university education!
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    Lejan .

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    Oct 25 2013: When I was a freshman at the University some Professors made us understand in their very first lecture, that just a view of us will ever be able to pass his/her exams.

    All of those professors tuned out to be bad teachers.

    The inspiring ones, those who love to educate and to make people understand and to widen their views, never took part in those selection programs of 'elite forging'. They accepted and nurtured their students individual abilities and didn't hinder them to grow or even to kick them out. Those were great teachers which you can find anywhere.
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    Oct 31 2013: Well said, Lejan.

    Inspiring teachers make the difference between a mediocre education and a truly great one. I can remember a university professor of mine who had that effect on me. He "accepted and nurtured [his] students' individual abilities and didn't hinder them to grow." I found myself looking forward to his lectures, and to talking with him after class. He was supportive and encouraging, and his mentoring gave me unique opportunities that defined my undergraduate education. I feel that most of my university "education" came as a result of my interaction and collaboration with him.

    In response to Mary's question, students should *expect* to be inspired: "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." I believe that higher education is a time for students to unlock their potential and discover their passion. In my view, students should seek out professors who foster creativity and original thought.

    That being said, I agree with Robert Winner: there are many reasons why a particular student could fail, and perhaps there is too much emphasis placed on formal college education. And as Lejan notes, bad professors exist. But this shouldn't stop a "top grade earner" from seeking the ideal.

    I only wish that this paradigm were more prevalent among university students today.
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      Oct 31 2013: As long as we keep this questionable luxury to appoint professors by their expertise exclusively, your and others positive experience will happen more by good luck and chance than to be 'expect* to be inspired'.

      We have to changes this!
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    Oct 30 2013: I could approach this many ways ... students not mature enough ... schools are money pits ... research schools VS educational facilities ... K thru 12 did not prepare them ... etc ... a valid argument could be made for all..

    One of the issues is that we have been sold the idea that you are a failure if you do not go to college. Many of the people who drop out of college could have went to a tech school and been successful.

    I have a view that many do not share. Junior Colleges sort this problem out. The cost is less and classes smaller. You can save by living and eating at home. Easier to join a study group in a class of 30 than to seek a group in a lecture hall of 200. Easier to adjust to being a number and not a person. Allows time to "grow up". Entering a university at 22 / 23 is a lot different that at 18.

    Do military service and then go to school ... many of the same reasons.

    Do a mission for your religion ... many of the same reasons.

    Go to a Liberal Arts College prior to University. Many of the same reasons.

    A butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker ... at 18 few have a clue what they want as a lifes work.

    Yeah school have problems ... but many of the wounds of school are student self inflicted.

    You have made a general plea but I sense there is a root cause to your question. Is there anything specific you can share and we can address?

    I wish you well. Bob.
    • Nov 10 2013: Bob, You nailed it.

      As a younger man I was upset that fledgling Professors had little practical experience.
      They were given much to much responsibility and allowed to teach when yet unfit.

      I believed that university's educators should be a the very top of the intellectual chain, and
      have had "hands on experience" from the "real" world, instead of the "self-published" world.
      With accomplishments heralded.

      I believed that universities should guarantee their products the same as any other business.
      I believed that Tenure was bad.

      I believed that universities as a group, leaned towards non-profit Corporate irresponsibility,
      and didn't contribute to a positive course for geographical government, while filling the
      open personnel requirements to the hilt. .

      The proof? I just looked around. I enjoyed Saturday football. Big then, much bigger now.

      Today, I watch the geographical government of the USA.
      George W. Bush -- Two Terms
      Barack Obama -- Two Terms
      Go figure.

      ps: I watched as Janet Napolitano fled the DHS early on and missed the mess.
      Today she runs the largest university in California, and gets ready to run the nation.
      Go figure.
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    Nov 7 2013: When I went to university, I was lucky, nobody expected anything of me - I was 34 years old and did it because I wanted to, so no pressure, except the one I put myself under - which was a lot, I can tell you!
    The result was that I came out with a good degree and learned about what I had been doing since I lieft school and started work - how organisations had shaped me into what I then was. Most of my pals did the same degree, but tailored it to make them into good candidates for Marks and Sparks managers interviews. I didn't. I did it for me and me alone - selfish, sure I was, but since you asked, I told you. Don't go to university for anyone except you and then it will change you - forever! Thanks
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    Oct 31 2013: Mary,
    I do not believe higher education kills or builds dreams. They offer an education, which may/may not support individual's dreams. The student is partially responsible for either possibility. When students attend an educational institution, it would be helpful if they were prepared to learn, which requires time and energy on their parts.

    I do not agree that "most top universities aim to accept top grade earners from high school with the intention of kicking them out after the first/second year at the university. Quite often by making the structure of the curriculum unnecessarily hard."

    As the mom of a student labeled "gifted", I can share the fact that the reason he was almost NOT invited back the second year at university, had nothing to do with the curriculum. It had to do with his choice to party, rather than study.

    Fritzie brings up a good point...some students may not be equipped to deal with the freedom of university life. I've observed several top students from my small town, go off to big universities and feel lost. They move from a very small town and school, where they excel, into a much bigger environment, which may feel overwhelming. I talked with one young man who expressed the idea that in high school, he excelled at academics, sports, music, etc. When he went to a large out of state university, he felt like a "nobody". So, I think university life takes some adjustment, which has to happen with the student.

    A university cannot "kill" creativity, which the student is partially responsible for. There are certain standards which need to be met, and the student will meet those standards or not. How does this motivate students who may be leaders in our world? I suggest that if they cannot apply themselves, and adjust to university life, they may not be able to apply themselves in other settings either. Those who apply themselves and adjust to the situation, will probably be our world leaders.

    Do you have information regarding suicidal rates?
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    Oct 25 2013: Could you provide evidence for your claim about top universities in your country? For example, given that you are in Canada, I assume this is your impression of Canadian universities. Could you show the retention statistics for the top ten universities in Canada? I think most top universities make public what percentage of their freshman ultimately graduate from that school.

    I agree with you that it typically does students no service to accept them at a school in which the academics are pitched at a level too challenging for them. While the university may believe that as many kids as possible deserve the chance to raise themselves to the level the university requires, it may also be that the university misjudges the actual academic level of international students.

    Another thing that may be at play here is that students in their home country may have little freedom in how they spend their time as high school students and when they get to university, they may not be well equipped to balance that freedom with the work at hand. Many international students who participate in TED have complained of how much time they spend each night in academic tutoring at home. Then it is not necessarily that the curriculum is too challenging but that the student coming from high school is not quite ready for the lack of supervision of their time that is typical of universities. Some get lonely far from home.

    You asked what students should keep in mind. i would say that you should see this as an opportunity. You can make the most of it if you value learning and are willing to apply yourself with an open mind and with diligence. If instead you tend to look for someone or something to blame, you will close the door on yourself.

    EDIT: The top university in Canada is the University of Toronto. It's freshman retention rate- the percentage who do not leave after one year- is 92%. For comparison I looked at the top public university in the US, UCBerkeley. Their retention rate is 94%.
  • Nov 21 2013: I find this statement extremely accurate. I have personal experience and understand exactly why this attitude is bad for preparing students for the "real world." I had high grades in high school and was accepted to one of the top Canadian universities but during my first year I realized that that particular university was not the place for me. The attitude and culture surrounding the school was one were students had to choose between a social life (balance) or just school and the result was astounding. Students were worn out, exhausted and drained in addition to the moral that was felt all over campus. No matter how hard I tried and how much effort I put in, my marks did not reflect my best work. After meeting with professors and teaching assistants on how I can improve, the answer was the same "This is what you should expect during first year." That is the wrong message to be sending to students, if we should expect to fail and become depressed, there is no motivation for students to find the positive in their daily lives. Universities, especially high ranking universities should be working towards fostering a great attitude and success in ALL their students, not just the extremely gifted. I found this model really frustrating and it led me to be depressed which led to my decision to transfer. After transferring, I found a stark difference which worked for the better. This school fostered community and had such a different outlook on the success of students.
    I think that universities are killing the dreams of many. The idea of "just needing to pass" has become the motto of many university students. If this is what we are striving for in getting our degree, what is going to stop that mentality from spilling into our future professional lives? Students need to know that going above and beyond will get them to where they need to be and they need the support of their institution to understand that.
  • Nov 17 2013: Funny thing is many of the great achievers of our day dropped out of college. I think we should close all of these universities or at least remove government funding from them and open up vocational schools or trade schools. Does anyone realize how many MBA graduates have flooded the market. We have large groups of students graduating thinking they are guaranteed a job when they get out of school. The hard reality is that a lot of the time there is nothing for all of them and they now have a 40k+ student loan bill to pay back. Vocational schools would be cheaper to run and we equip students with a trade so they can actually get work or can start their own business doing work for themselves.
  • Nov 7 2013: I am now a university student and I am doing my third year here in Canada. I spent my first two university years in my home countries and I just transfer here. Yes, I am a international student who spent lots of money to achieve better university education. From my own experience, many university students(friends around me, including me), are losing their dreams as they become more "realistic" in universities. Many students are not interested in their major at all but just keep finishing it in order to get a bachelor's degree for job seeking, I believe that's why they "just need to pass" in exams.
  • Oct 28 2013: The job markets of the global economy are flush with 4 year traditional BA or BS degrees. If a student wants to be considered to have an advantage there are two real options- Get a Masters, or even a doctorate (as Bachelors degrees are now the empirical equivalent of a High School diploma) OR learn an artisan craft (think welding, forestry, etc.) as those positions are in a higher demand because of the lack of young people moving into those fields.
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    Oct 26 2013: The second best university in Canada is University of British Columbia. Here is their 2012 statement on student retention:
    "Retention is defined as the percentage of first time, first year, full-time, degree-seeking students who
    register in the following year. Students are considered to have been retained even if they switch degree
    At the Vancouver campus, retention rates are high for most programs, consistent with retention rates
    for highly selective institutions and not surprising given the strong correlation between high admission
    averages and retention rates. Retention rates vary by faculty, program and visa status (Table 7) but
    overall, retention rates remain at 90%-92% at the Vancouver campus.
    Another area of concern is the difference in retention between domestic and ISI students in some
    programs. Improved student retention, particularly for international students is a priority at the
    Vancouver campus. Recent enhancements to orientation, transition and student support programs
    have resulted in improved retention rates for international students. "
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    Oct 26 2013: universities get money for every student enrolled and every student that graduates
    they in a win win situation....

    if not government funding, it's funding from private sectors with terms and conditions and the fine print written with invisible ink...
    what they should keep in mind is that they are being used for purposes that will benefit the funder

    sometimes i think academia has compromised itself for the highest bidder
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    Oct 26 2013: Answer to first question, yes it is a killer for nearly all who do not dream of being a professor or joining one of the classic professions such as lawyer. 2nd ? What to expect? varies depending on what institution but generally don't expect useful help or guidance nor as Ken Robinson says to be recruited into a great job just because you got your degree(s). Basic problem as I see it is that the old paradigm of generic intelligence still holds sway. The diploma mill grinds the raw ore (the students) smelts them and pours the standardized result into a limited number of predetermined molds. Often these molds (degrees) are outmoded and do not fit current needs nor do they have the flexibility to adapt to the accelerating changes that our future appears to hold. The Students natural creativity is generally long since purged and the unique gem like qualities that all of us contain are shattered into dust suitable only for emery boards. Because most of these institutions are successful in enforcing their monopolies on Authority and power with the help of their alumni and their Lawyers who graduate into politics it seems nearly impossible to escape the vicious circle. My Professor actually said to me
    " First you must be a slave before you can become a Master". I overheard her say to another Prof. that they would never allow a certain student to get his degree. Why? I assume because he had not bought into their definition of the "truth". Generally they succeed using the Stockholm Syndrome in co-opting most of the students and those who resist are easily weeded out by the use of their nearly unchallengeable power. In "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance' Mr Pirsig recounts one such Philosophy Prof. at Chicago who never allowed anyone to earn their Doctorate because only HE understood Socrates correctly. We need Sir Kens education revolution on all levels but most of all at the top before things can change. I am trying to start from the grass roots but it is slow
  • Oct 26 2013: I went to a large public University. The freshman class was 15,000 and 4 years later the graduating class was 3,000. There were a few that took 5 years or 5 year programs. Was it the University's fault? They were required by law to accept a certain number of students from the state. One I met, graduated from high school with all A's but the graduating class was less than 100. He never learnt how to study and now he was in a class of 100 in math where most of the students are as smart as he is. He could not take the pressure and transferred to a smaller school. Another student got a 4.0 the 1st semester but discovered parties, alcohol, girls and flunked out. The University had counselors available to help students but they had to ask.

    My son went to Harvey Mudd College and I found out that the school did an analysis of the incoming freshmen (170 makes it a lot easier) and if they had concerns, they would have the freshmen come in for classes the summer before their freshmen year. All other freshmen during orientation week took tests in math, physics, chemistry, and english for placement. If they did well, they would have to take advanced tests for better placement.

    You made a comment about money making industry - that is true for the profit universities. The non-profit usually charge between 50-75% of the cost of education in tuition. The rest is covered by research grants, endowments, and donations.

    Too many students go to college as a method to get a job and not an education. I would hope they can do both, especially a broad liberal arts education