College campuses are getting a good deal of attention these days. In fact, we always have something to bemoan about our school systems. Why? One reason is because it is a generally shared experience. However, on close inspection, the education experience will vary for people based upon things that may not align with our values.
One of our values is enshrined in our Declaration of Independance: the “pursuit of Happiness”. The assumption is that this is our own happiness, but we often pursue the happiness of others. Sometimes this is good, such as when we help someone rise and they take us with them. Or we work under someone, help them be successful, then we get to have their job when they promote or move on. Too often, we allow systems to impede that happiness. If we value the pursuit of happiness, we are obligated to remove as many obstacles as we can. Doing so benefits ourselves and others.
With the holidays at hand (some would argue that we have been in the holiday season since Halloween), and New Year’s nipping at its heels, it is natural and healthy to reflect on our schools. I would recommend this activity with a caveat – ignore your campus mission statement. Those will always align with your values. Choose a bigger challenge; you are a seasoned professional and are up to the task.
I recently spoke with a student in an accelerated master’s program. He loved his teachers and felt the peers in the class were great to work alongside. However, when he signed up for his evening program, no one mentioned he would need to take day classes to fulfill his electives. No small obstacle when your target market is working adults. Now, did the college commit a lie of omission, or did the student selectively not hear that detail? Reasonable people will disagree here.
Thank goodness we are not trying to solve THAT problem. Instead, take this example and apply it to your school. Why? Because most of us cannot change the big things at our schools, but we can affect the little things. How we communicate, what we communicate, and when we share all will either keep a student on track or contribute to his or her failure. Whatever we pursue in our careers, it is usually in our interest to find ways to improve the path for others. At the very least, we should not knowingly set traps for those who rely upon us to teach them from a place of truth. We can do this, we can live this.