Monday, July 8, 2013

On the traditional college experience

Watching parents and new students arrive for orientation this summer in my small college town got me thinking.

Incoming students and their parents are all over campus and the small downtown area in the classic college town that I am blessed to call home. They are wearing the school colorsparents tooand seem eager to learn their way around campus and prepare for the adventure that will begin next month.

It wont come cheap.

College costs have been skyrocketing for years.  The average college graduate in the U.S. leaves with over $26,000 in debt.

They could do college online for a fraction of the cost.

But they are here for a reason.  The reason must be that they value the traditional college experience, and are willing to pay for it.

The traditional college experience is much more than courses and job preparation.  For many its a socialization and maturation process that prepares students for life. 

Life preparation certainly includes career skills, but theres a lot more to it. It also involves becoming independent, developing the whole person, understanding the world around us, acquiring and honing communication and critical-thinking skills, appreciating other cultures and viewpoints, understanding the importance of life-long learning, appreciating the importance of serving others, learning to be a team member and a team leader, etc., etc.  There are also parties, football games, and opportunities to make friendships that last a lifetime.  Many traditional college grads are forever connected to their school.

Given the ever-growing online alternatives, is the traditional college experience worth the significant extra cost?

I think so, but I know more and more people are beginning to question it.

I guess Ill find out if they stop showing up in the summer for orientation.

Here's hoping that day never comes.

Please connect with me on Facebook for my stories about higher education and college sports: