I am a 33 year old recent college graduate of the University of California, Irvine. In my two years of study there, after completing a year and my Associate degree at Los Angeles City College, I have heard a lot of feedback from faculty about the state of education, but I also had the opportunity to talk to my classmates.
While I would occasionally have a fellow non-traditional student in my class, most of my fellow attendees were in their late teens to early 20s.
Three things that seemed to be a common concern among them were:
1. They feel lost.
A lot of the students I came across expressed that the major they were in were in a way pre-selected for them. They majored in subject areas because their families expected it from them, not because it made them happy.
I explained to a few of them that as a parent myself, we want our children to be safe and as secure as possible if something were to happen to us. As an artist myself, being an artist is risky, especially with a kid. However, EVERYTHING has risk.
I was sitting in classes with young adults with 3.8 GPAs and they told me that they felt like losers and were worried about not getting into grad school.
2. They are poor.
Hate to break it to you parents (and future students) college is financially hard. There are three things that you need to be successful in life: Time, Talent AND Money. I made it through school with loans and scholarships and some assistance from my family, but largely I had to do it all on my own.
I stood in the financial aid line to get a GRE certificate to take the exam and I overheard a student telling another that she survived the week eating seaweed and white rice.
While UCI has taken steps to address the food crisis that a lot of these young kids are facing, please do understand for the first generation students especially…they are “poor”. These students are the ones that should sign up for work study as there is a program tied to work study to assist these students with nutrition while attending college.
3. They just want your support.
There is no secret to success, but work. You have to work and let yourself fail in order to succeed and improve. Many students do not have the support of their families. This is understandable as parents are paying for their children to go to school, therefore they don’t have “time” to mess around and explore.
That is the problem. A lot of students think they know what they want to do until they are exposed to other things. That’s the beauty of college. If you force your child to only attend class and come home, when are they going to experience the culture of their educational community? When are they going to have time to study if you force them to work 20+ hours a week while taking 15+ units because that’s what their parents told them they have to do?
Just like with student athletes that don’t learn while in college, if you force your young students to work demanding hours, they will walk across the stage with a piece of paper just like you wanted, but with nothing behind it.
The state of education in this Country is disappointing, but we can fix it together as a global community. It all starts with the youth and making it better for tomorrow. Help them by supporting them.