By Johnathan Masters

As a senior, I have learned many things as a college student. I have learned that the best way to succeed in class is to sit down and shut up. I participate enough to get my required participation points. I note the ideas that the professor believes, since, like most folks, they like the sound of their own ideas. Being anonymous is best, but since I have tried to distinguish myself, that has only made me an open target. My main goal here is to jump through the necessary hoops so that I can get my diploma, my piece of paper which says that I know something and is necessary to get a good job. So while I know how to get by in college, and do very well, I don’t know how to make college count. Good friends help, since they’ll influence you the most. Getting involved also helps. I’d suggest study groups, but those only work with folks who put in the time to study on their own beforehand.

Mark Twain said that he never let his schooling interfere with his education and, so far, my schooling has been running counter to my education. In the classes that have not inspired my curiosity, I painstakingly do the required work, cram for the test the night before, and immediately after my test I put the ideas out of my mind. According to a Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, America’s math and science scores are slipping compared to the rest of the world. Another recent study conducted at New York University showed that over one-third of America’s college graduates aren’t learning critical thinking skills. The song “They Schools” by hip-hop group Dead Prez teaches us that “they schools aren’t teaching us what we need to survive.”

So what’s wrong with our educational system? Are we, the students, not getting enough homework? Is it the course evaluations? Could it be tenure and uninspiring professors? The hierarchy? Something needs to be done to change America’s educational system so that our schooling and our education become one.

Since I am working on being a teacher myself, I don’t need to be sitting down and shutting up. I need to be standing up and speaking up.

I am tired of my education not mattering. I desperately want my education to count, but I am not sure how to convince the powers that be that independent thought is good, without them flunking me, censoring me, or injuring me or my future in some manner. As incoming freshmen, I challenge you to think critically about what is the purpose of college, and to consider what we as students can do to make things better – not just for your sake, but for the sake of the education system in our state and our country.