Letters from the Editor – Education is (literally) an investment

“What do we think about this? Anyone?”

The professor, chipper despite her graying hair, looked from student to student. It was an inelegant lecture, sure (we were reading an article from the classroom projector) but the topic was contentious, a good basis for a lively debate.

You wouldn’t know it from the students’ reactions. My classmates’ faces were blank, either staring forward or looking down at their desks. A few lines were half-heartedly muttered, and little else was offered. I did my best to hold back, to offer my fellow students the opportunity to contribute, to no avail. Ultimately, I was one of two people to consistently speak up in a class of about twelve people.

This might seem like a description of a core requirement course, filled to the brim with doe-eyed, easily-startled freshmen. It’s not – the class I’m describing is upper-division journalism, not one many folks sign up for accidentally or flippantly. What’s more is it’s an oral intensive course, explicitly requiring more discussion and speaking than average.

The cost of education is a common concern among our generation, and many of us leave school saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in debt that’s uniquely difficult to shed. Yet despite this it seems that many students can’t be bothered to engage in their courses, opting to space out during their (admittedly dry) general requirements. On some level I can’t blame my fellow snake people for this disinterest – indeed, the science courses required for my degree have me both livid and languid. But as far as I’m concerned the money’s already spent, so I may as well try to get something out of every course.

As a culture, we obsess over so many expenditures. We compare the particulars of smartphones for weeks, weigh the virtues of cars ad nauseum and even agonize for minutes over restaurant menus. More than anything, we want to make the best purchase possible and to savor every cent’s worth after committing. Why should education be any different?

If you’ve decided that an education is the best thing for you right now (and it isn’t for everyone, I was absolutely not committed when I first started here), then show it. Be engaged, be enthusiastic, speak up. Unlike the classes themselves, being bored is not required.

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1 Response

  1. elizabeth says:

    Great article and well written. I would suggest though that age and maturity level does play a part to a degree in classroom involvement. As an undergrad I was reticent, uncertain and even shy about contributing verbally in class, despite my commitment and desire to be there.. Later when working on an advanced degree in my mid-20’s I was far more confident and mature hence readily eager to engage in class discussion. I suspect you are in a class of young undergraduates feeling a bit uncertain and intimidated. Hopefully they may loosen up a bit as the semester progresses.

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