Letitia Falk

Lab Technician/Recent MSc graduate, University of British Columbia


This conversation is closed.

Why did you go to University/College?

What was/is your drive for pursuing an education? Did you go to an educational institution to A) increase your job prospects or B) to pursue a subject you enjoy?

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    Oct 20 2011: Honestly, I just went because I felt that I was supposed to. I graduated high school and heard the gun. People started shouting "run! run!". I panicked. "where?! what?! ahhh I'm going!!".

    Needless to say I became a statistic.
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    Oct 18 2011: To Study and to Learn ....
    Its a Stupid question ....
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      Oct 18 2011: If you feel the question is stupid, you need not reply. I was merely trying to point out that there seems to be a division going on right now between people who think that Education should be treated as a means to a career and people who think that it should be treated as a sort of recreation: pursuit of learning for interest's sake.

      I was curious to see which driving force caused current students to chose their program?
      • Oct 18 2011: I think it's a valid question to ask...personally I went the career path, because it was financially sound..at least that's what everyone said at that time - I'm talking about IT - and they were right. However, I struggled during college, mostly because I felt no desire to take a single class and looking back I think it was a very bad decision I made.

        Good news, I managed to change the field and I'm very happy I took this decision, although I probably would have earned more as a programmer.
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        Oct 18 2011: Its a valid question since we seem to be in a place where we do not have a clear idea what the role education is suppose to play in society.
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        Oct 19 2011: It's definitely a valid question.

        People who assume that everyone else functions based on their own personal set of motives are destined for an unpleasant surprise. Or many, depending on how long it takes them to figure that out.

        (I finally let my family talk me into it. I swore up and down I wasn't going, and of course, I regretted it. This myth of higher education as a den of intelligence and creativity really must die.)
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        Oct 21 2011: There is an english proverb that says, "The only stupid question is the one that is not asked." I totally find value in the question you asked.
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        Oct 21 2011: I've not been on here that long but i have noticed people seem to attack people who ask questions, and to answer you Q i am a 1st year in uni studying science
        • Oct 22 2011: I have to assume his post's tone was a combination of a lack of awareness of how his post came across in tone and a cultural difference that says that there IS only one purpose to go to University.....
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      Oct 19 2011: Hey Amrut,
      I suppose you are 15 right.You are in 10th Standard right If I am not wrong.
      At this age you might be not have had the necessity to make a choice between what you like to do and what you or your parents or society thinks is good for your career or say for financial stability or growth.
      I saw you like Science and technoloy so might not that be hard for you as your interest and so called "Scoiety norms of education for carier building" would be same as Engineering...As IT is booming in INDIA.
      I know many of my friends after school were forced to join Science and Technology by their parents against their interest in Arts or say mass media.
      I am sure you would have some of your firends experience the same after the 10th and could share the same here?
      So even though all of us go to study in a college on a broader view the motive behind joining a particular college or university may differ.So question asked is valid on that part .Isn't it?
      Best of luck for your future Amrut.Its good to see youngsters like you in TED. In my teenage I would have never thought to join such a community.Would have wasted my time in chat rooms.Good thinking on your part.
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    Oct 17 2011: Good question. It was neither A or B for me at the start. Since I was a kid my parents explained to me that university is the final and most important step in the education process. So, as you don't question whether you should go to High School or not, I just didn't question going to university. I don't know why I didn't question it, but in a way I'm glad I didn't. The things I learned from the type of teachers and the overall environment taught me a lot more than what the books did alone.

    The problem is that I wasn't well prepared for the experience. I didn't have enough time or the developed mindset to figure out my real interests. Yes, having a BA or BS was essential for having a good job back then, but I already started my own business before graduating, so that wasn't major concern. My main concern was actually finding something I'm excited to learn about.

    To achieve a true state of one pursing a subject purely for the joy of learning it society needs to accept the fact that monitory success is only one form of success, not the only one. Only then, we will stop filtering degrees according to their employment possibilities. If a person wants to study anthropology and they genuinely learned during their university years, then they already got a good return on their educational investment. Should this person work in a related field? It would be cool if it happened that way, but why can't he or she start the best anthropology blog that was ever made or conduct their own research after finishing their shift at the security company or the coffee shop and publish a book about the findings?

    Education, a degree, and a well rounded character are not the same things; they might be interlinked but they are not the same. While I graduated long time ago, I can proudly say that I've never stopped learning and I don't have the intention to stop anytime soon either.
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      Oct 17 2011: Great points Loaay. Maybe instead of begrudging lack of job opportunities, we need to change the way we percieve education as a means to a career. The University experience certanly has more to offer than just degrees. I think that the problem is that tuition is so expensive that students need the incentive of a better wage to get them through the process. Otherwise we might as well do just as you suggested: blog about our interests, and read up about them on the internet for free instead of investing 1-8 years into them.
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        Oct 18 2011: True education can happen when one chooses to learn and not when they force themselves to learn or even try to do it with an incentive. Learning itself is "the" ultimate incentive. Tuitions are going up because we made them go up. We, society, put a lot of emphasis on which university a candidate has graduated from. So, universities started to charge more for that experience and compete. It is we, the students, parents and employers, that created this hype. If the focus during job interviews was on behavior, personality and skill matching then the name of your university becomes irrelevant.

        When customers don't like a product and they stop buying it the company starts to listen. The power of lowering tuitions is in our hands. A strong movement can change the world. I guess 'Power to the People' didn't come from nowhere.
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          Oct 18 2011: True, the responsibility to change is our own
  • Oct 24 2011: I'm going to uni now to attain the very basic qualifications for a professional degree. I think if I were interested in the arts or business, I might not have chosen to go to uni. Not sure if it's a very inaccurate perspective, but somehow it feels that art is something you can learn and study on your own, and business is something you get it right by actually doing it. But for areas like Medicine, Law and Engineering, a paper qualification is the springboard to kick start one's career...I guess uni offers a structured style of education, and the opportunity to build up one's professional networks...I guess I'm grateful for the numerous very good friends I've been able to make at uni.
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    Oct 22 2011: Failed in my attempt of being an unconventional intellect in a society moulded with conventions. Hence, the reason.
  • Oct 22 2011: I went because I needed to prove to myself and everyone else that I was not a dumb Indian unable to excel in the very system that had largely destroyed many of my and other First Nations peoples.
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    Oct 19 2011: Sadly, I went to college not because I wanted to "learn" something, but to get a degree for getting into corporate life. However, I realized the fallacy of this thinking sometime in the middle of my undergrad studies. TED partly contributed in a sort of awakening which caused me to ask what is the need of college or studies? After seeing Sir Ken Robinson's, "Schools kill Creativity", my mindset completely changed and I started appreciating the process of learning in itself. What I was learning became irrelevant.

    I realized that college is truly needed for the process of transformation of inner intellectual capacities and to become a human who has a heart to understand others. That I feel is truly the aim of college education. Sadly, most peers around me tend to do college for the "degree" and the "GPA" to get into prestigious financial organizations.

    By the way, why did you go for college? And what do you think is the real purpose of education?
  • Oct 18 2011: I would like to add (C)," to change your job prospects." I have spent the last 15 years doing physical labor jobs, and it has taken a toll on my body,(bad back.) I need a change and thought that going back to school could give me different opportunities and knowledge, and to explore something other than physical labor to make a living.
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      Oct 18 2011: Good suggestion! This is actually the reason that both of my parents went back to school during my adolescence. Their example very likely contributed to my desire to attend University.
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    Oct 18 2011: Go to university/college is to help you find "who you are" and "what do you want to be"
    If you've already found it, then you can leave.

    Why I say this because most of the college students in China(I'm from China) are always following others: to learn what their parents want them to learn, to follow everyone to catch a master degree after graduate, but if you ask them: what do you want to be? You will be disappointed.

    Hope you can understand my saying


    organizor of TEDxUIC
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      Si Xie

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      Oct 18 2011: Maybe I just that kind of nerd who desire to acess more knowledge and stay in school. In my opinion, Univeristy or college is always a nice choice when you want to have a comfort place to be smart.If we go deeper about the University or College in China, I think this question can be more complicated, and this will narrow down the question..

      University is supposed to be a place help student to be on the road.It is common that most of the college students have no idea what they are going to do what kind of people they wanna be (I am still confused about it), in this time, university can be a place that you can try something that you may interested. Because you can not still depending on your family to live your life, to be into college can be a way that you face the reality and go to work, and university can strengthen your skills in some degree. Like if you want to study finance, well, good university can provide a well-orgainize program and great faculties.

      University have a completely different way in eduaction while comparing Secondary school like High school. But of course, different countries have different situation.

      And university can be like a pre-society, you get to know some extent of the real society, but in a safe place..

      Also, a nice university degree do help you when you finding a job.

      Going to university can be Win-win choice, I think.
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      Oct 18 2011: Although I think there is less pressure from parents to attend University in North America than in China, still a lot of University students don't know what they want to do for a career when they enter (or even leave) their program. I think you make a good point that University is an extension of earlier education and that a lot of the process is personal development, not learning specific skills. This isn't necissarily a bad thing since most graduates consider University a positive experience regarless of what they do afterwards. I know University has helped me learn what I DON'T want to do for a career at least! :)
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    Oct 18 2011: B!
    I asked myself... what is the most interesting subject to study?
    My answer: Humans.... hence I studied psychology!
    I did study statistics afterwards for A as well (as a secondary, but important part)
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      Oct 19 2011: Hahaha! Statistics was my favorite course in University :) Probably because I got involved in research so early that I was so thankfull to finally have someone show me how to interpret my data!
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        Oct 19 2011: Some call statistics a false science in part because we are drowning in data and starving for wisdom. How do you integrate that?
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          Oct 19 2011: Techniques like DNA sequencing have lead to a whole field of "High-Throughput" technologies that generate data faster than we can alalyse it. Right now it seems overwhelming and it is causing a revolution in the way that science is conducted (at least in cell biology). We used to use the scientific method to answer questions:

          1. Observe something puzzling
          2. Generate a hypothesis about it
          3. Design an experiment to test the hypothesis
          4. Use statistics to analyse the data

          Now we have technology that can generate masses of unbiased data and we're stuck working in reverse! For example, the real work began after the completion of the human genome project: in determining what genes do what and how they differ between people.

          We really need to use databases and systems approaches to study this data. But I also think that on-line journals and blogs about scientific data are a step in the right direction because the more people are looking at the data (including non-scientists), the quicker wisdom will be drawn from it.
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          Oct 19 2011: Adding to what Letitia says:

          Statistics is basically a method of data reduction (finding valuable parameters that describe the whole or part of the data-set). If you do this correct, it gives insight. If you make errors, or misrepresent the data, you are a fraud (or you don't understand statistics).

          Statistics and probabilistic reasoning is counter-intuitive, so needs to be acquired (learned).
          But once you get the hang of it, it can increase your wisdom amazingly, as you think in probabilities and distributions, and not in 1 and 0 (i.e. gray-scale instead of black/white thinking). Anyway, I could go on for this for hours, explaining all the attainable wisdom when understanding (and using) statistical analysis.
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    Oct 17 2011: I went because I love learning but I will say this:

    I'm starting to think that education in the U.S. is really overrated and is just a gateway for working. This is the only country in which I know that you can have a brilliant mind and still end up working at McDonald's.

    Despite how much one may love to learn, in the end, MOST of us will still end up in the work force. The transformation of philosophy is one example. Philosophy used to be a respected academic field that can feed an inquisitive mind. Now if one majors in it, they are met with questions of "what are you going to do with that".

    So to answer you question, in the United States making decent money is really everyone's primary or secondary reason as to why they go to college. This may be a hard pill to swallow and I'm sure that many people love to learn (being on TED is one example of this) but there will always be that economic component as well and this is truly sad.
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      Oct 17 2011: This is exactly what I am struggling to understand right now. And I don't think that the US is the only country facing the problem of overeducation and lack of job opportunities. Everyone seems to agree that better education is a good thing for society but how to we reward the educated when the cost of attending University is no longer offset by better job opportunities in the end?
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        Oct 17 2011: Its good to know I'm not the only one who thinks this being that most people I talk to are not aware or see nothing wrong with it.

        Your correct and maybe I should not have generalized about the U.S. being the only country. I just figured that since I never been to other countries and seen their educational system (aside from media or friends) that I had not right to say anything about it other than their system of eduction being a lot more developed than the U.S.

        Excellent question by the way. I'm a strong anti-capitalism advocate (I do not embrace political ideologies like Marxism, communism) but something like anarcho-syndicalism, which for most people is as absurd as believing that Elvis is still alive but I wont go into details about that.

        What I'm trying to say is that living in a society that values wealth, consumption, materialism, production is not going to solve things. Economic systems are in a constant state of flux and things can get from bad to worse in a heartbeat (or a few greedy peoples actions). The fact that when there is an economic crisis and the result being that education, employment and the housing market are usually the first to take a big hit, this comes to show that there is something certainly wrong with this system.

        If you as me, and this may overlap with the other topic about education being a natural right, the system is going to have to change to the point to where college degrees are more than just a social symbol but a means of improving ones life and this really starts with the public, not through some incremental process. As I told someone earlier, the real issue here is money, its symbolic nature and the credence given to it by society. If we solve the money problem, we solve this educational problem.
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          Oct 17 2011: Good points: I think we're all struggling to understand how to fix these systems without rocking the boat. We're talking about improving education but actually students are performing as well if not better on tests and improvements to technology and problem-solving based learning are being made all the time in institutions. The real problem seems to be with what graduates can expect once they enter into the work-force.

          Our economy causes students and graduates to comple with each other instead of using their newfound skills to work together. Competition is part of how the world has always worked but if everyone's sick of it, and none of us want to get ahead at the expense of each other anymore, what can we do to change it?

          Its just feels wrong that the more educated everyone gets as a whole the worse the job opportunities and lifesyles we can expect become. Shouldn't we be better able to come up with solutions to our problems? Maybe the problem is in fact economically driven?
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    Oct 24 2011: I'm going to a University because I'm first generation and I feel that it's my responsibility to do what none of my siblings could and carry on the family name. Plus it seems to be the best way to accomplish my dreams.
  • Oct 24 2011: Believe it or not, to learn. I feel like a major loner sometimes though in that regard.
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    Oct 24 2011: I actually went to college because I am aware that education is the basis for progress. But in Venezuela it happen two particular phenomena: firstly a case similar to that posed liu jinjiang and simply obtaining college certificate (which is very common). But on the other hand, Venezuelans, we have the highest rate of university students in Latin America, which makes clear that we need to thrive. Separate point is whether a career is studied according to the vocation or anyone just for a title.
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    Oct 23 2011: I went to college because that is what I thought you were supposed to do after graduation. I was so naive that I thought that everyone went to college after high school. I am the daughter and granddaughter of teachers so of course I was going to college after high school. Not going was not an option.

    I went to college to increase my job prospects and to pursue a subject that I enjoyed. I majored in Marketing and minored in Communications. I now work as a teacher. LOL. I had to go back to school to get certified for the family business. ;p
  • Oct 23 2011: I establish relationships with new friends because nowadays people is working companies when they graduated at your universities then they corparate with other staffs of companies and we work with these peole therefore if we meet o lot of friends ,we soon will conform team spirit and raise level of work
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    Oct 23 2011: I never thought not going to university can be an option :)
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      Oct 23 2011: Interesting! Do you mind my asking why not going wasn't an option?
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    Oct 23 2011: recently i saw a documentary "The Triumph of the Nerds" and after seeing that movie i asked myself the same question.
    i'm into computer engineering and this documentary is all about Bill Gates, IBM, Microsoft, Steve Jobs....etc

    The question came because i realized to be successful in achieving your dream you dont need college....
    they all did it and so can i...

    the only problem is to achieve something they ask for the degree....
    so i am in the college only for the degree...

    AND not to get my parents mad at me :) they paid for all the education :)
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    Oct 23 2011: I am an artist and to me pursuing higher education meant finding a Community where I could grow and explore.
  • Oct 22 2011: I went because that's what people of my Socio-Economic status did at 17-19; I had no particular interest in one thing more than others, so I sort of did a buffet of a degree program until someone told me I had to get a degree in 'something'. Apparently, just going to school for four years to learn different things because you are interested in several different things wasn't good enough for the Powers That Be. So, I got a degree in English Lit. and, since I had to have a minor, under the rules of the university, I chose History simpl;y because that was the subject I had taken the second most courses in.... I really found the experience kind of counter-course to the notion that university be a place to try out a spectrum of different things and ideas. My experience was that the Admins at the University were really uncomfortable with people taking a couple Art courses and a couple Science classes and a Math class or two and a couple classes in this and that. Their rationale was that a cohesive degree program was more 'sellable' to a potential employer, so in a way this was for my own good to be forced to choose a major....My thought was, what the @#@$# business is it of theirs; It was MY money I was paying and I should be able to take whatever I want. Give me a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree and say Fare Thee Well, Mike....
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      Oct 23 2011: I didn't realize that some Universities made you choose a major actually! All of the Universities I've attended (2) have had "General Studies" programs. I agree with you though that a lot of people attend University to find out where their interests lie and restricting student's access to trying out many different subjects seems counter-intuitive towards achieving that goal. I had a pretty good idea that I liked Biology but I didn't chose a specialization within that field. In contrast, at the larger University where I am doing grad school almost all of the undergraduate students have specialized into pre-med or microbiology or genetics etc.... And I was really amazed when I transferred to meet Biology graduates who didn't believe in Evolution because they had never taken a Evolution, or Ecology or Zoology or Botany class! In this case the rationale is that specialized students were able to learn many more specific techniques that they would need in the field and be more employable. The funny part is that a couple years into the program I am performing just as well as students who had a more specialized degree. Techniques can be learned, but I wouldn't trade the open-mindedness and ability to see the big picture that I gained from having a broader background for the world.
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    Oct 22 2011: Well...ever since I have started understanding about this world and my surrounding...i have had the urge to be taught myself at one of the best Uni's. well luckily. Im in the best university of mt country :) and as my dreams have paid me off...i think i should be attending the uni :)

    Tc palz.
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    Oct 22 2011: I went to school to avoid getting my parents job. No matter how hard essays or projects or getting to class was, it was never going to be as hard as living every day knowing i could have had this life and i gave up.
  • Oct 22 2011: this is a fundamental qustion
    because every
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    Oct 22 2011: The learning for learnings sake vs career path comparison kind of assumes that these are the main reasons that people go to university. In an ideal world perhaps they would be but that really wasn't how things were when I was applying to University with my peers 6 or 7 years ago. Many people - if not the majority just saw it as the next thing to do - like high school followed junior school. Parental insistence is a huge factor, the phrase 'you need a degree' - and the simple fact that people don't want to feel left out - everyone they know is applying so they do too. A lot of people also go to party and live alone for the first time - particularly in the UK.
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      Oct 23 2011: Good points. Education is trendy right now, do you think that enrolling because of those kinds of social pressures is a good thing or a bad thing?
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    Oct 22 2011: University once served as only a ladder for me, with which I hoped to climb up and reach a higher position in career. However, inspired by lectures given by successful people, I know the aim of university is far more than just to maintain a particular skill or increase our job prospect. When we become parents, we spend more time taking care of our children,at the same time striving for bread. Chances are we may no longer have such sufficent time to taste the fragrance spilling from all sorts of masterpiece by people like Aristotle or Einstein....University, a platform where new ideas interact and a sanctuary away from noise where we explore the ture value of life, is giving me more than just a certificate.
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    Oct 22 2011: cause i have been used to doing it.Support i didn't go to university,i'll be easily lose myself.Yeah,maybe i'm a little bit stupid
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      Oct 23 2011: No I think you make a good point about being a University student being tied up in our personal identity.
  • l jj

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    Oct 22 2011: I am a chinese college student。I fell that in China,most students go to university just for a paper which is called graduation certificate.on one hand,college teacther also know tjhat,few of them teach how to think ,how to treat out life and so on.on the other hand,teacher do not pay attention to our study,passing the exam is just ok.what about the universities in yout country?
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      Oct 23 2011: It varies I guess. I've had some really inspirational teachers who took a personal interest in me and I've also had some teachers who just seem to do their job. Generally it is in smaller classes that I have been able to connect and get inspired by teachers. What size is a typical class in China? Maybe the lack of enthusiasm from teachers comes from their reasons for becoming teachers? This is what I worry about: If you become a math teacher just to get a job and not because you love math, then you're not going to be as good a teacher as someone who is following their passion.
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        Oct 24 2011: In fact,at leat i feel that my teachers really love what they teach.After all they read a doctor,if they don't like the aspect he research,it will be very painful.I think the main problem is the leaders of school make too many rules about teaching,teacher can't teach what they thinke it's important,he has to teach but teach what is asked to teach.It may heard a little ridiculous,but it's truth in China.the position of professor is lower than leaders.many professors think it should be changed,but they don't have the courage to change it. I hope it will be changed in few years.
  • Oct 22 2011: new experience
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    Oct 22 2011: I've quit university after two semesters, because I realized I don't want to waste my time anymore. After that I've started studying my favorite topics. I've gained some skills and I've got my favorite job :)
  • Oct 22 2011: The reason people go to university/college, in my opinion, is one of two reasons or both. One, to look at the world from the an educated perspective and try to explain why something happens. Second, is to have a career and support them self.
  • Oct 22 2011: Well, I did not go to any. I did not want the debt. I did not want the tax payers, footing the bill. (Student Loan Debt) My parents, were too busy, working, for a living. How are you paying for it? Are you enjoying it? This is an excellent question! Oh, how long will you be paying for it? With Respect!!
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      Oct 23 2011: Well I try not to think about it...I paid for my undergraduate degree myself (worked my butt off as a waitress evenings/weekends/summer) while my parents let me live at home rent-free. I have had to take out student loans to pay for graduate school though because I had to move to the city and housing is expensive. I have enjoyed being a student very much but I won't be sure if it was worth it until I graduate, find out if I will get a job, find out how long it will take to pay back (I would estimate about 5 years?) I've got a little less than a year left and its a scary turning point to be honest.
      • Oct 23 2011: I can imagine, in this day and age, it would be scary! You seem like a fighter and will not give up at all! As far as finding a job, I feel for young people of today. That would scare me!!
  • Oct 22 2011: Right after high school I went for purpose A. It didn't work out so well. When I was 30 I went back for purpose B. It worked out rather splendidly.
  • Oct 21 2011: There are lots of things in my life that brought me to College education especially my goals for future and influences that I got from surrounding people. Life is a word that made from four letters, although it means a lot. College or university, anyplace that educate teach you , prepares you to further life.
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    Oct 21 2011: The chocies given A) increase your job prospects or B) to pursue a subject you enjoy? both are not appropirate first place we will be going to the colleage/university to get the Knowledge and if you have knowledge then only we will come to things do and things not to do.

    if i have knowledge i can share my friends,colleagues,family and others we can't count the knwoledge with money.

    and lot of more to say...........................the above is my opinion.

    Good Luck
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    Oct 21 2011: Hi Letitia, I'll take option C) that be Change The world TO Be More:
    1- technology.
    2- beautiful.
    3- Health.
    4- Good Doing.
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      Oct 23 2011: I love your reply. On reflection, my question is very self-centered isn't it? Do you want to make yourself some money or entertain yourself intellectually? Absolutely another option is to help others. Thank you for this thought
  • Oct 20 2011: because i want to change my around world
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    Oct 20 2011: For me, it has been a mixture of both, increasing job opportunities AND pursuing a subject I enjoy. I think we find out happiness from following our passions, being in a position to use education as an avenue to pursue those passions, that is an amazing opportunity to say the least.
  • Oct 19 2011: Creo que para aprender, pero no me lo propuse en ese momento y no llegue con esa intención
    ahora extraño la escuela porque el trabajo es aburrido
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      Oct 20 2011: Anyone know how this whole translate business works on TED?
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    Oct 19 2011: it was the only thing I ever wanted to do - I wasn't concerned about job prospects or, even, what I studied. I just wanted to learn, which I've continued to do whether I'm at university or not.
  • Oct 19 2011: I find it interesting that I'm not seeing anyone say that they went to college to have a career in the field of their choosing. While there certainly are satisfying and fulfilling jobs that don't require a college degree, engineering, medicine, finance, and the sciences are not among them. One could also make a pretty good case that music, education, business, and many others fields require special training that is most often found in a university degree.

    So, did I study areas that were interesting but had no impact on my career choice, yes I did. Did they make me a better person, yes they did. Did they make be a better performer in my chosen field, probably so. Did they allow me to have a career in my chosen field, no they did not.

    In the end I went to college to allow me to have the kind of career that I wanted.
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    Oct 19 2011: I went to university to learn more and understand more about my world, people in it and business. I started in business admin, switched to English and then psychology and I learned something every step of the way. I went on for a masters to understand more about what makes people tick and post grad work in Human resources, and then an MBA to learn the ways of business (weird full circle).
    It is always said that you get a degree to be more employable and it can help but the really satisfying reason to get a university education is to challenge your own grey cells, to learn from brilliant people and to really get to the bottom of issues that interest you.
  • Oct 19 2011: I went to university for my bachelor's degree as it seemed to be the next logical step after completing my high school. I studied commerce because that was my major subject in high school. Everyone in my family was a geek, either a doctor or an engineer....however, I did not want to pursue any of those two as a career. I took up commerce even though I had the chance to choose Science as a major subject in school. I managed to convince my parents that it was the best thing for me to do (I am not as convinced now :) ). I did not opt for science because I did not like studying Physics & Chemistry. I loved mathematics and I usually scored the highest marks in my class......but I don't know why I did not pursue mathematics as a career....I didn't know then.....but I know it now...I did not pursue mathematics in my bachelors because I did not know its scope then.

    Anyways, while studying for my bachelor degree I was bitten by the MBA bug....and so I started preparing for the entrance exam....these exams are really tough and I could not score well enough to get into the major b schools. So, I started working in the corporate.....after a while I realized that I could go only so far if I did not have an MBA degree....so I started preparing again for the exam and this time I got a seat in one of the good MBA institutes. It was a one year program and it gave me the chance to come to Europe for the first time as a student. I loved Europe as it is so different from India....clean, organized, very less people.....the list goes on... :)....... The moment I finished my MBA....I landed a job with an MNC....and I managed to triple my salary....even though I don't think there was much change in my profle.....maybe a little bit.....but for sure I had more information about the job market and the skills needed to market myself.......!
  • Oct 19 2011: Some of us, at least to a degree, amble through life accepting what is placed in front of us as time goes on. Real thought is spent on daydreams and petty problems while the important questions remain unanswered or ignored till they stare you in the face. I entered university with such a mindset and would have remained so hadn’t I finally derived some inspiration from enthusiastic friends (sorry Gisela :). It ignited an avid interest in scientific reductionism, literature and artificial intelligence to name a few which now theme my dreams. I can’t imagine anything more important other than motivation/interest that you need for university. I still wish I could just have answered with ‘B)’
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    Oct 19 2011: Christopher,
    Please provide examples of how statistics leads to wisdom. Part of the point I am making is deductive reasoning has lead us collective down a path toward inter generational suicide. Concurrently we spend precious little time attempting to see or understand the interdependent and symbiotic relationships of ecosystem webs. This disconnection has directly lead to unintended consequences and legacies issues which typically Science refuses to connect, causes with effects assigning any responsibility, accountability or liability. I can identify many examples of what I speak. Can you give specifics from a statistical perspective?
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    Oct 19 2011: I'm in my fourth year of a double major in Digital Media Studies and Liberal Studies... the "Studies" at the end of those two should give you a hint into which reason I chose! (it's B)

    I went to university to be brought forth—educated—into relationship with not just knowledge, but ways of knowing. I wanted to come into contact with the great books, I wanted to learn how to truly think critically, I wanted to learn how to research, I wanted to learn how to write and speak well, to express my thoughts in ways both compelling and concise. Most of all I wanted to come into contact and make friends with fellow seekers; those people who, as Justin Hall-Tipping mentioned in his recent TED talk, "have a magic look at the world" (or as Steve Jobs might say, think different). I wanted to learn, through much weakness and mistakes, how to become fully human.

    University may not have granted me all my desires, but it has some. I doubt my gratitude toward it—well, my professors—could be expressed in 1500 characters.
  • Oct 19 2011: B) but in the end it did result in A). My own educational journey started out with curiousity. I believe that we should study what we find interesting and engaging. I not only chose subjects but also experiences which I enjoyed. English Theory was a favorite undergrad course although others did not recommend it. I also enjoyed Education: curriculum :Theory & Practice. Which also increases job prospects for me. A person should enjoy what they do in both education & in their work. So the answer in the end is both!
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    Oct 19 2011: Unbiased data, interesting term. Can you describe unbiased data? Is it subjective or objective? How does it move between both perceptions or can it? And where is the data leading?

    Personally I'm very concerned about nano science. I believe the analogy of two roads diverged in a yellow wood (frost) regarding the two paths before us ( greatly simplified) One path is about control and domination (which the Bible supports) and the other path is one of reverence for nature and ecosystems. One focuses on nano units and one of the web.

    Given that we haven't been smart enough to adopt the precautionary principal doesn't it behoove us to ask those questions regarding wisdom early on in the scientific process, and not just on the back end.
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    Oct 18 2011: I'm going to be going to University to pursue subjects I enjoy and that I'm interested in learning more about - English and History - which are quite different to my current profession (UX Designer). I love what I currently do, I love meeting with clients and learning about their company and their goals, but like most people my interests and hobbies don't end at loving my job.

    I do think it's always important that you enjoy what you do, inside or outside of education. Enjoying what you do gives you a certain drive to be the best, and only good things can come of that.
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    Oct 18 2011: I decided to go to college, because I wanted to have a degree that will allow me to get a better job, and access to more opportunities. I think that going to college helps you in learning how the system works and also lets you know what you can do to improve the system or to benefit from it.
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    Oct 18 2011: Well, like the majority, my parents wanted me to get higher education in university. I love studying in university :D
    I'm still at university. My options would be A and B tho, Especially A ^^
  • Oct 18 2011: to increase my job prospect but i pursued a subject i enjoy.
  • Oct 18 2011: Much like other posters here, going to university after finishing high school was the natural progression for me. I was fortunate enough to be accepted into a double degree program (i.e. I graduate with two bachelor degrees), where I could pursue my interests in science and "learn useful and practical things about commerce". So I guess for me it's a bit of A and B. It would be interesting to ask "Did your educational institution enable you to do A and/or B?"

    I am actually in my final year of university now and it is quite frightening. I say this because unlike many other students I don't want to just graduate and take on a job that's typical for someone with my qualifications. There is broad career support for those seeking to work in the banking/finance, legal and engineering sectors. There are internships, vacation programs, traineeships and graduate schemes. University can really prepare you for entering the workforce via these programs.

    Unfortunately, I am not one of those students that wants to partake in these programs in these areas because they do not lead to the career I want to pursue. I have several ideas that I want to develop and put into action. Things that I want to do so that when I die I would die thinking "I've accomplished something in my life". However, I lack the resources and experience to bring my ideas to fruition at the moment, so I need to find a role that would give me the relevant experience and get in touch with more forward thinkers. I have some idea of where to go for that, but university sure didn't prepare me or others in the same boat as me.

    In short, I went to (and am at) university so I could graduate and pursue a career that I am passionate about. Universities provide good job prospects, but poor support to those that wish to pursue a career. To improve this would require industry-wide and inter-faculty cooperation.
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    Oct 18 2011: I went for (B) and changed to (A) halfway through when my loans ran out. Now, I am a bartender who can paint fairly well. ;).
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    Oct 17 2011: I went to college to become a music teacher. I did not have that spark called talent that would let me make it in the performing world so I decided to teach. I have a BA, 2 MA's and a Doctorate. I rarely mention the Doctorate when applying for jobs as it makes me over qualified except to teach at college or university level. I teach at the middle to high school level and really love my job. Yet, I agree with others the BA is about the same as a high school diploma and the Masters gets you entry level jobs. The fault lies in the colleges and universities. They have programs and degrees that are in my opinion useless in the job market and should be relegated to junior colleges. We need to rethink college so that it is once again something that when earned has respect for the work done and is relevant to the progress of society not just politics.
    Best luck to you
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    Oct 17 2011: Both. I have alternated between what i had to study to get employed and what I really wanted to study. I studied literature because i wanted to and then had to get a business degree as I needed to get financially independent. After saving a bit I went to study in England, where i went back to writing and media. Thats what I do now, doing what i enjoy most. Its like everything else in life, necessity and desire. Education is one way of liberating the mind, but not the only way.
  • Oct 17 2011: I am from India and was intrusted in games when i was in fourth standard and as i grown up every one around me told that its important to attend College for getting degree so you can get job and money And mostly they say just study to pass out but no one told me study for your own no matter you pass or not.
    After Passing my 12th i was really crazy about 3D Animation and Gaming so i left my Bachelors in Computer Applications study on a side and got into the institution for 3D Animation and now i am really happy that i am doing what i love and now i am doing it for myself and really if you study for yourself then it gives us lost of knowledge and benefits because you can't get bored while studying and the reason behind is it you love what you study.
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    Oct 17 2011: I was born in Thailand, but I'd spent my life in the US for few years. Here in Thailand, studying in the university is very important. In the past, like 10 years, people who got the Bachelor's degrees were greatly accepted by the companies or the government offices but now it is not. Bachelor's degree is not enough for applying for jobs!. Unexpectedly, Master's degree is referred by the companies. Who graduates with the good grades in Master's degree would be firstly considered when applying for jobs. Now I'm studying in the undergraduate school of international relations in the top rank Thaiand's university and my goal is to get the doctoral degree in this field before I get to work in the foreign countries.
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      Oct 17 2011: I am experiencing the same thing in Canada. I am completing a Master's degree right now partly because I love learning but partly because job prospects with a Bachelor's degree were not ideal. The concern I have though is that graduate school is based upon an out-dated system involving very few students who are passionate about independant research. Now that graduate programs are being filled up with students just trying to get qualified for entry-level positions in the workforce, departments and supervisors are getting overwhelmed. Should graduate programs be re-designed to prepare students for the workforce or will this just lead to a kind of educational inflation where everyone needs to spend half their life studying just to get a job?
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        Oct 18 2011: Yes, I think we should have the educational reform to guide students the real goals of studying. I am not good at studying but I love to study. I never think of what I am going to be after graduation because I think studying is just a little part of my life to face problems in this world not to get a better job. I think the job prospect is important as well according to the economic problem we are struggling with but you know many of successful idols who never graduated from college like Steve Jobs. For me the real reason of studying in college is to get the academic knowledge but in the other way you may study 'life experience' as well.
  • Oct 17 2011: I've been asking myself that question ever since I graduated!
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    Oct 17 2011: Going University/College was my parents decision.....defintely due to economic reason .....thats how our present certification system is organised..............

    Subject I enjoy I studied and still studying with out going through any certification process ..... i mean going to any institution....
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      Oct 17 2011: Yes, I considered including outside pressures as another influence on the decission to attend, but I figure that you decide to study a particular subject over another for those same two reasons. Glad you're enjoying the process!
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        Oct 18 2011: Yes. Outside pressures whether social or financial are one factor and the financial structure of educational institutions is another one. I see this as an evolutionary process in education. Skill development for employment first as a need for society, then in time a need for the individual to get a space for herself in society. What we are talking about now is education for educations sake. Which is great and needed. But as it is evolutionary and the systems right now are far from perfect you have to walk the extra mile to address the needs/ system constraints and flaws and then also pursue your own learning. one way of doing this is also to diversify the learning process. Education is not only philosophy and academia. See this talk on TED. I think you will really enjoy it. these kinds of initiatives take pressure off the educational system. Great topic for discussion though. Ted talk by Bunker Roy ' Learning from a barefoot movement' in October 2011
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        Oct 18 2011: you know I took the opportunity of joining here in TED conversation is also to learn from others. Actually to really enjoy learning none need to go to University or college that's what I feel.

        Your topic is good one for me as it's giving the opportunity to learn how students finally decide their study beyond my known domain.

        By the way, though I went university as per parents decision, choice of subject came from university with which parents were not happy that much due to perceived low potential in job market and also I didn't like it at the beginning but later I fell in love with the subject. Because I can't stay long with something I don't love, so decided to fall in love with that. And found it's really amazing subject.
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          Oct 18 2011: What subject do you study? I always loved Anthropology but decided to study Biology since I thought it would better prepare me for a job (something in the medical feild I assumed). Now I'm in graduate school studying Immunology but I spend a lot of time talking about human nature (anthropology!) here on TED! lol
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        Oct 19 2011: It's biological science , to be more specific Zoology at gradutaion level and at Masters Level Limnology & Fisheries Biology...........
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    Oct 17 2011: I went to university to study interesting things. I got spat out of it for being too much of a tourist, after three years. This is sad since I feel I've learnt more than the monk-like learning machines I was with.
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    Oct 17 2011: It is not an easy question to answer, although I guess many find it self-evident. Either A, or B, or a mix of both. But this is not so simple a question to answer.

    Some people have done greatly without a University or College education, and become successful business people and leaders.

    Both A and B are common reasons, but there also is a layer of Parenting and Society thrown into the mix. We are groomed and prepared to pursue an education as much as we can. In many places, a Bachelor's degree is not enough, or at least considered to be minimum. Masters degrees and PhD's now are a bonus. Also, there is the rise of certificate programs, which replace the theoretical approach of typical educational institutions, with hands-on experiences.

    For me, it was A, in the sense that in order to get a decent job, I needed a university education, as well as B, since it was a very good starting place to learn about a topic I loved. But it certainly was influenced by my parents as well, who insisted on it.

    So given the choice now, knowing what I know... would I still go to university if I had the chance to turn back time? Yes... my personal experience there, having nothing to do with the reasons why I went, have shaped me into the person I am today. And I wouldn't change that!

    Nice question :)