The university is a bastion of freedom
A few months ago, I read a posting on social media about a lady who made the difficult journey to her son’s university to bring him home for good. The son at the age of 18 had not fitted in well at university. It is always a difficult choice for parents to see their children struggling in any environment and the first rule is to get them out. I perfectly understand and every child is different.
University vs High school
There is a huge gap between children in schools where their every move is controlled and the freedom students get as undergraduates. The university is the last place for the students to develop their independence before they venture into the world of employment. Universities provide students with the freedom to select from a platter of options, but they do not have to take such options. No one will force them to take any of the services. Universities have always being places of freedom and learning.
They are different from schools and they need to be. Is this always good to have that freedom with very little control and supervision? I believe we have to do this. We have to remember there are matured students who will hate being monitored or treated ‘like children’.
Back to the social media posting. As it the case with anything on social media are the commentators who also join the conversation, some with very limited knowledge of the circumstances. Every year, millions of students attend universities and it can be difficult for some of them to settle in. Social media are places where people take the opportunity to vent unsubstantiated theories and provide far fetched examples.
University life is completely different from schools. Students do not have to attend lectures and if they don’t, no one will report them to their parents. University cannot be an extension of secondary schools where teachers chase students, monitor their activities and report their actions to their parents. The university is the last step, the bastion before young people enter into adulthood. No employer wants to be checking on their staff to make sure they get up in time, attend meetings, eat well etc.
Online vs face to face
Many provided examples of lack of face to face sessions by many universities, forgetting that many sessions put together by universities are poorly attended by students. This academic year, less than 20% of students have attended face to face sessions with many preferring online lectures. Here is another one, how many of the students who attend lectures are prepared for the lectures or participate in any of the deliberations?
Many parents do everything for their children at home, so of course they will struggle when they get to the university. The same students who will get to school at 9am now struggle to make a 10.00am lecture.
Two sides to a story
There are two sides to every story, universities offer help, but they don’t force the students to attend all the services on offer. Students don’t have to attend lectures, we email them, we sometimes even chase them, but these are adults, we try to get them to interact, communicate or even engage, but you can only lead a horse to the river, you cannot force it to drink.
As a parent myself, I sometimes get frustrated when I see students who have paid a lot of money to be educated show a complete lack of interest in their own education. This year, I have turned up at face to face sessions with one or two students in class and around 20 online. The same students will claim that they prefer face to face sessions. Interestingly, the attendance online has been far better than any face to face classes I have ever had. But at least they are online, we need to get back to interacting with each other.
I will continue on my visits to universities. So happy to visit the University of Reading.