I know what you’re thinking: “Is this provocative title a clickbait? “. No, it isn’t. There are better things to do in college than going to lectures. Consider the following:
(* By college I refer to any higher education institute *)
You’re attending an institute, with the beautiful minds of other students, all wishing to expand, so that you can sit in silence in front of a knowledgeable lecturer who thrusts information towards you. You can get information from articles, books, online courses, etc. The lecturers already formed an understanding, and instead of helping you turn the information to a knowledge of your own, they are passing you something you can easily get elsewhere, and at a pace that suits you.
There are better things we can do in college, in and out of classes:
Learning is a must, of course. College should allow students time to study, but receiving the information for the first time in class is a waste of resources. Students should come to class after they’ve read/watched the needed material.
The greatest asset of a lecturer/teacher is not that he knows the material, but that he knows what to do with it, and how it should be passed onto you so you’ll know what to do with it as well. Better use of time (for both the lecturer and the class) would be if the students came to class already equipped with the needed information. The job of the lecturer, in this case, would be to help you understand it more deeply. Get you closer to knowledge.
If the students already have the information, a fruitful discussion can be started between the lecturer and the students or among the students themselves, in groups. The job of the teacher is then to guide the conversation and help the students get to conclusions. Help them reflect on how this information came to be and where we can take it further on.
The class is a place for asking questions and get better at asking them. Asking the right questions is a significant part of learning. The lecturer, being an authority in his field, probably knows how good questions look. He can answer students or decide to let them explore further on. He can ask them questions as well.
Experiments, physical and mental, can be done in class. The lecturer should guide the students in building models according to what they learned. It can be done in the essential stages as well, even during the first calculus course, you can put it to practical use, so where it fits in life. The same goes for biology, architecture, music, etc.
Projects should not be postponed until the end of the semester, or worse, until the end of the diploma in some cases. They should be an integral part of classes. Students get used to playing with new concepts, either tangible or abstract.
The interaction with the teacher should be closer to mentorship. If the lecturer and faculty think they can do better than the existing books, then they should record themselves giving the lectures and let the students watch in their own time and pace. There’s no need to waste class on transferring information.
As students in college, we receive a lot from mentorship. We meet professional role models, and we’re exposed to how far passion and curiosity can take us. We soak much more than information from the faculty: values, ways of approaching new subjects and problems, collaboration, teamwork, leadership. The class should emphasize these.
Operating the class in the ways described above keeps the students very active. It’s much harder to fall asleep or zone out in the middle of a discussion. To be able to participate, students will have to listen to one another and process the information. It’ll also create much more interaction between students, speeding the formation of personal networks and friendships.
The need to participate in class, in experiments and discussions, motivates to come ready. Students will likely try harder to go over the needed material and make sure they understand as much as they can. It’s not just for themselves; they need to contribute to the class. They have a part to play. It can serve as a lesson in responsibility and integrity.
The need to learn the material will be good practice for the students in self-learning, or in group learning. They’ll become more self-dependent and be able to rely on their learning skills. Today when we have access to all the information online, this is a useful and vital skill, as I mention in many of my posts.
So there are many things to do in the class other than listening to the lecturer. There are more. But the class isn’t the only thing that should be invested in when going to college.
Out of class:
The benefits of college don’t end in class. Students are already using the fantastic facilities and opportunities that colleges have to offer. However, not all students do. I am going to list some of the things I think are worth investing in, in the hope that both students and faculty will put more emphasis on it.
Perhaps the best thing about college. You can learn anything alone at home. You can teach yourself with the use of books and courses on virtually any topic. Maybe less efficient than when combined with group sessions and discussions and perhaps just as good. What you don’t have at home are people.
In college, you’re surrounded by other students coming from different backgrounds with different ways of thinking. You have a chance for high levels of interaction with other people for an extended period. You can experience many things together. It creates a “melting pot” that serves as a good place for forming strong friendships and professional connections.
This richness and diversity create an excellent opportunity for growth. As good as one’s mind can be, it can always develop and learn from others. College can open you to others’ ways of thinking, values, actions, and habits; You can’t get it online.
There is also a fun aspect of it, which is extremely important. Experiencing is much more fulfilling when shared with others. Being a part of a group, of a mission, generates a lot of motivation and fun. Also, things are easier as a pack. People are so important that most other activities worth doing in college are related to being a part of a group.
I’m not referring to night clubs even though it’s a valid source of enjoyment. I’m talking about: chess, debate, entrepreneurship, choir, dance, math, sports, and the Greek system (and more). Each club has its specialization, but in general, it’s all related to being a part of a group.
The specialization of the club would probably be our area of interest. It’s a place where we can further develop ourselves, whether it’s a hobby or something we wish to do professionally. In these clubs, we’ll meet new people that share our interests. It’s fruitful ground for further conversations and new friends. It is a significant part of college that’s sometimes very hard to find afterward.
I highly recommend every student to be a part of a club in college. It gives a sense of belonging and development, and there’s lots of fun in it. It’s a shame to miss it. It’s the responsibility of the students to join the clubs, and the college can’t force it; however, the faculty should make sure that all students are aware of the clubs and encourage them to join.
The facilities in a college give access to things hard to come by later in life. It’s a good place to engage in research and experiments. Students wishing to develop their understanding further or create something can use the labs and facilities of the college.
You don’t need to have a Ph.D. to participate in research. Choose your area of interest and ask the head of the department to be teamed with a researcher, or be given access to the labs. Many colleges encourage this initiative-taking.
Use the availability of highly professional people in college to do research and experiment, and expand your horizons. If you’re interested in AI, go to the AI lab in and talk to people. Do it without bothering anyone, but don’t be shy either. Some professionals will be glad to nurture your curiosity. Where later in life will you have access to so many professional departments?
It’s an excellent opportunity to see what professionals do in academia and know whether you like it or not. Some of them also have experience in the industry as well and can help you choose a career path.
There are many other things to do in college. Get involved in politics, practicing leadership, finding love, improving independence, and self-management (when leaving home), to name some.
In conclusion: colleges should reduce lectures and increase their reliance on students’ self-learning. It will allow both the students and the colleges to focus on things students can’t get elsewhere and yield a higher return for the investment.
What do you think? What is (was) your experience as a student? And as a lecturer?