A university is defined as a higher education institution providing academic degrees (Aronowitz, 28). That sounds like a cut-and-dried understanding, but a university and the experience it can provide for those who attend it is actually much more involved. People come to the university for a number of different reasons. They want to get more education, but that might not be because of the desire to get a different job. Instead, they might attend a university because they want to learn about something that matters to them, or even out of peer pressure. Some people learn just for the joy of learning. It does not really matter to them what they are learning about, because they are interested in nearly everything. That can be a great blessing, or an absolute curse, depending on whether the person has the time and money to enjoy those interests and to continue to learn and grow from an academic standpoint. To the people who just need to get a degree for work and move on, they see the university as a means to an end (Townsend & Wilson, 448).
For those who want to learn all they can about life and the world, they see the university as a vast wealth of knowledge and experiences for them to enjoy. There are the classes to work their way through, and there are the clubs and communities to join. Friends can be made, and the student may even want to study abroad for a semester or two in order to have experiences that they may not be able to afford on their own. Traveling and seeing the world is something that can be done through most universities, and that helps the student expand their horizons and discover things about the world and themselves that they might never have learned otherwise. In many ways, the university is a way for the student to grow up and become who they are supposed to be. It also shapes their worldview, and can cause them to really rethink what they know about life, love, happiness, politics, religion, and other aspects of their personality and belief system (Hilmer, 339).
The idea of higher education, though, can sometimes be at odds with the real world. When students are in a university, they may be so immersed in class work that they do not get out and start exploring anything else that makes up life. If they do not travel abroad with work-study programs, have a job outside of something on campus, or develop friendships and other ways of interacting with others, they can find that they do not have much of anything in their life except going to school and doing homework (Aronowitz, 45). They are supposed to get a well-rounded experience, but they may not have the opportunity for that if they take a heavy class load that keeps them from having the time to experience other things. It can be frustrating, and can lead to burnout, which keeps the student from doing all that they want to with life. It can also lead to the student getting poor grades, because they struggle too much to get the information they need in class and through homework. Stress can play a significant role in how well a person learns, and too much stress makes learning very difficult (Aronowitz, 49).
Additionally, students in a university are taught many things that they really do not need to know and will probably never use. That is more information than they need, and they may wonder why they need to take those kinds of classes. If they are not interested in the classes and do not see the point of taking them, they may not do well with them and can end up with poor grades. Those poor grades may haunt them in the future, as well, and can keep them from being as highly regarded or respected as they would otherwise be by their peers. Some jobs even ask for a person's grade point average in college, and may want proof of that. There are many jobs that do not require this, but for those that do, it is important to be aware that doing poorly in classes because they do not care about the subject matter can really hurt a student at a later date. Universities put a lot of pressure on students for rote memorization and for well-rounded subjects that will not be used again.
By doing this, the universities are not really providing students with enough real-world information that they can use. Many people are graduating college and still having trouble determining how to handle their daily lives, because they have not been taught the skills they need to be successful. When they do not understand how to handle everyday life, all of the extra, well-rounded classes they took in their university days are not really going to help them very much. That is unfortunate, and it is one of the problems that many people have with the university experience. For those who go to learn, the university can be a great choice (Boyington). For those who go to obtain a degree, it can be long and torturous, and can feel as though it did not provide them with the information they needed in order to really live their lives properly. There is so much more to life than work, and those who have not had a good university experience may have trouble with the work-life balance.
They will either spend too much time working and struggle in other areas, or they will not take work seriously because they are burned out from the classes they took. Either way is bad for them, and can be detrimental to the people they work with and for, along with the people they deal with in their personal life. The idea of the university is a good one, and it lures in many people, but the reality of the university is often very different from what was expected. With that in mind, it is important for anyone who is planning on going to a university to have a good understanding of what they are really getting. If they assume it is going to be all fun and adventure, they may find that they are mistaken and that they must devote much more time to their studies than they expected (Barrow, 1899). This changes the experience for them, and can affect how they feel about the university, what they learn, and the work they are going to be doing after they graduate. With that in mind, the university can be very different from what it is believed to be in the beginning.
Universities are not the same thing as a community college or a trade school, and many more people are turning to the latter two options in order to make sure they are better able to fulfill job requirements. They can also get through their education faster that way, which makes things easier for them and helps them get into the real world of jobs and everything else more quickly (Boyington). It can be difficult for a person who goes to four years (or longer) of university to assimilate into the working world, because it is very different from remaining in school. However, when a person goes to a community college it is only for two years, and trade schools can have varying lengths, depending on the trade that is being taught and the specific requirements of the school. It is important for anyone considering going to university to keep that in mind, because a community college can be significantly less money and offers less education, but can be enough for many jobs (Boyington).
Trade schools are also good for those who want to work in a specific field or industry, because they only teach what is needed for that job (Boyington). That means the student does not get a well-rounded education, but does get the skills they need in order to get a job and make a living. That is important, because many people are not interested in the extensive education they get in a university. Instead, they would rather learn only what they need to know and then move on so they can get started on their career. Depending on the trade school they attend and the trade they want to learn, they may be very interested in simply getting through the required education, and they may not be interested in learning more about other things. There is nothing wrong with that, as long as they are happy with the choice they make. They have to understand, though, that some people will look down on them because they do not have a university education. Many people are judged harshly that way, but the reality is that going to a university is not the right choice for everyone.
University educations are often thought to be better than college or trade…