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What can be done to get the most out of one's schooling? What would you change about your education experience?

From other people's opinions and my experiences in the American Midwest, it seems most schools focus on their students' test performance and few classes prioritize true, authentic learning. I was disappointed when the classes I took during my first year of college -- or perhaps the aspirations of all but a fraction of my classmates -- were a continuation of this mindset.

I think I'm missing something and would love to hear your thoughts. What can students do to get the most out of their education? What do you wish you had done differently, if anything? Is this something I have to discover on my own? Thanks in advance for your insight.

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    Sep 5 2011: Ok I am a bit concerned about causing students to give up on their main subject of study to the detriment of their intentions.

    What is your intention in pursuing study?

    Be very clear about this. Also be very clear about your path to employment afterwards - if the profession you are entering requires good grades and are uninterested in your varied interests then get back to the study program - and decide that that is what you need and want to study. I know that in the UK there are many students entering into degree courses who are going to emerge after three years with a good degree and still not find work. As you enter your studies I think it would be wise to start thinking about what you are going to do when you emerge. Go visit the kind of place you think will be your workplace and ensure that you like what you see. Test your chances of getting into that job. Find out how many other people are applying for that job. Find out what the winning candidate had that the others did not. Do not wait for them to come and find you - they might - but it is unlikely. If you need to be employed you need to find out what will make you employable.

    Also job titles are not reliable - you may be given a great title - but find out what your duties are going to be - find out if what you are learning (and probably enjoying doing) is what you will actually be doing when you get a job. If it is not, then it may be that after you have been working for a while you will get the job you actually want - again find out what proportion of the people ever get to the job you are studying to achieve.

    In my profession - architecture - we were taught to be architects - designers of great and wonderful buildings. Few of us ended up ever deigning what we had a chance to design at university - the discrepancy can be shocking when you only get to project manage or design window joints. Fine if you are happy - not so fine if your heart is still in designing great buildings. Time to get real!
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      Sep 5 2011: I agree to with you on this. Majority of students entering colleges and universities do not carry with them a clear idea or grasp of what they're getting into, add to that the fact that many of them decided to pursue a certain course or degree for far-off reasons such as but not limited to the following: out of a whim, because it is a trend, forced by parents or relatives, etc. etc. etc. When choosing the degree to take, students need to put a lot of effort into evaluation and planning for the long term, i.e. what happens beyond college.
      "I think attitude is a key element." - Richard
      As per the above excerpt, attitude is one of the key for an outstanding educational experience may it be primary, high school, college, etc. How we view learning and the rewards it would be able to give us in the long term will give us a different perspective of education. I'm not saying that we should all be bookworms. What I'm saying is that there should be balance. I always tell myself (even way back my college years) that learning is not confined in the corners of the classroom. Up until now that I'm employed and working, I still continue to learn and educate myself. One lifetime is not long enough to learn all things but it certainly is enough to learn the tools that I'll be needing for my trade.

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