Here is an active learning exercise that could be used with “A Matter of Degrees” by William Beaver (Contexts, Spring 2009). Students will be asked to reflect on the purpose of college. It could also easily be used with a discussion of manifest and latent functions and could be paired with statistics on levels of education throughout the world.
Below is a list of reasons for attending college that students commonly cite. Please check the reasons that were motivating factors for you to attend college.
________ To get a better job
________ To acquire a set of skills
________ To earn a higher income
________ To follow a significant other
________ To meet new people
________ Due to doubts about what to do in life
________ To get a degree
________ To get out of parents’/guardians’ house
________ To meet a future husband or wife
________ Pressure from parents
________ To make a difference
________ Pressure from high school (teachers, guidance counselor)
________ Friends were going to college
________ Other: _________________________________________________________
Group discussion questions:
- Why do you think most students go to college?
- Do you think that you are learning skills in college that you will use in your job someday? Does you think some majors teach more practical skills than others? If so, how?
- What was your main reason for going to college?
- In your opinion, what is the value of a college degree? In other words, what does it show?