College life is a completely different world for students when they move out of their schools. Therefore, you look for options that can help you make your college life a smooth journey. You always look for opportunities to learn new skills, get the guidance you need to succeed, and have supportive relationships with your classmates and professors.
But, what are the things that colleges miss out on and our students need today in campus life?
Some of the ideas and experiences that were generously shared by students will be discussed here. These are based on a series of issues that campuses should take more seriously. Let us look at them.
1. Institutions Need to Adapt to Changes Following Student Needs
If you see, the scenario on campuses has changed from what it was a few years back. Now you will find more nontraditional students that make up a majority of undergraduates. The new student majority comprises a diverse group of students, including commuting students, working students, part-time students, elderly students, students with family to take care of, students who are transferred from other universities or colleges, students who take re-entry, foreign students, students with disabilities, and students from diverse cultural and economical backgrounds.
But, the institutions have not done much to change their calendars to cater to the diverse needs of students, whether it be campus services or course schedules and campus services. Even post Covid, nothing has been done at that level.
However, the real problem is far more serious. Campuses need to do more than just make changes to calendars and course schedules or add more online services. If you look around the campuses, you will see that most of the students feel disconnected and directionless. Therefore, colleges and universities need to upgrade and develop a sense of belonging among students, in relation to faculty, classmates, and the campus.
Some of the steps that institutions can take to enhance outside-the-classroom life:
- encourage increased communication between students and professors, including emeritus faculty.
- more workshops and projects on subjects that create interest in a lot of students.
- encourage students to participate in intramural athletics and comparatively less formal types of organized exercise.
- engage in more proactive outreach via a student ambassador program.
- more themed or special interest organizations and events should be developed or sponsored
- by tracking the number of students contacted and monitoring their happiness, doing more to gauge the efficacy of student life activities.
2. Campuses need to upgrade their course patterns
Many students today need more than just lecture and discussion courses to get a degree. These are called alternative learning experiences, and they must be for credit to get a degree.
- Improve students’ writing, reading, and study skills as well as their academic planning, degree planning, and major choice that will help them improve on all fronts.
- Create cooperative places where students can collaborate on a project while receiving guidance from mentors and advisers.
- Introduce interdisciplinary courses with a wide subject or issue from a variety of angles, preferably from comparative, intercultural, and international viewpoints.
- Allow them chances to use what they have learned in real-world situations. More practical classes should be encouraged.
- Encourage experiential learning like study abroad, field trips, project-based learning, supervised research, internships, and civic and service learning.
- Learning about the environments and communities we live in. Investigate, analyze, and develop answers to urgent issues.
- Engage them in applied mathematics classes that involve data analytics, statistics, database and spreadsheet management, and quantitative and survey research in particular.
- Courses that will allow them to survey subjects like the broad history of the universe, the Earth, life, and mankind, morality, religion, cognitive fallacies, social science methods, and thinking, and also international art, literature, or music.
- Courses on serious topics that address current, challenging issues—like equity, race, sexuality, or social justice—academically, rather than ideologically.
- All-inclusive humanities courses that address existential and developmental concerns including tragedy, applied ethics, love and intimacy, death and mourning, and identities.
3. Prepare students for postgraduation life
Because the future will not be like the past, we must prepare our children for the bold new world that is just now starting to take shape.
For instance, we might think about giving students the chance to explore the difficulties of being a young adult, such as the changes that are occurring in the life course, the job market, and relationships, and offer more guidance and support as they go through the complex processes of social and emotional maturation. Why not provide classes on being an adult?
Also, we need to do more to get our graduates ready for a work market that is changing quickly. At least some of the economy’s future shapes are obvious, even though the details aren’t quite clear. Success in the future will depend on obtaining specialized digital and soft skills, as well as disciplinary-specific talents and topic understanding. Let’s develop ways to assist kids in learning the skills that will give them an advantage in the job market, whether it be through specialized academic programs or noncredit workshops.
We are aware of these soft skills. These comprise interpersonal, emotional, and social competencies as well as advanced communication abilities. Considerable value is placed on computational, cross-cultural, contextual, and design thinking. Companies of all stripes anticipate college graduates to be professional, able to multitask, solve problems, manage their time well, and work well in teams. Let’s work harder to deliberately develop these abilities.
Then there are the highly sought-after 21st-century talents, which include data analysis, project management, and logistics in addition to research abilities and the capacity for various forms of communication. Our campuses should do more to foster the development of these skills.
There should be an increase in the course offerings to include more classes in cybersecurity, data science, emerging technologies, game design, neuroscience, robotics, sustainability, financial assistance, advising, enrollment management, or transcription.
The most important changes will be made to curricula, the student experience, and faculty roles—the things that are most challenging for institutions to reform. However, colleges and universities must adapt for three clear reasons:
- Too few undergraduates ever earn a degree.
- Too many feel disconnected and unsupported and directionless.
- Too large a proportion flail and flounder for years after graduation.
We will not have to throw out the baby with the bathwater in order to change institutions. We do not have to adopt delivery methods that are primarily online, switch out professors for course mentors, or devalue the liberal arts. Yet we must make the holistic development of students, their feeling of community and connection, improved advising, and significantly higher rates of competency and student achievement in highly sought-after fields of study our guiding principles.