The Future of Higher Education
By: Nora, Taylor, & Mona
Final Project Narrative
Rain was forecasted, so we started apprehensively. And we had no idea if people would stop to talk to us, or if they did, whether they would be interested in what we were doing at all. But we had a plan, and we were going to see it through.
We met on Friday at noon just outside of the library, each hauling our portion of the supplies (colored construction paper with a hole for the string, candy, markers, baskets, clipboards, and string). To get people interested in the project, we first answered the questions ourselves and hung the strips of paper on the most visible branches hoping to entice passersby.
Once we were all set up, two of us (using candy for bribery) stopped people walking by and asked them:
1. For you, what is the biggest issue with higher education?
2. What is most important to you about higher education?
We recorded their answers on the appropriate strips of paper: green and blue for #1, and red, pink, or yellow for #2. After which we thanked them and asked them to think about how they would envision their ideal institution of higher education as they went about their day. We hoped that this would spark further contemplation, and just maybe they would think about it enough and be interested in it to bring it up to someone else that day. The plan was for the person not asking the questions to document with photos. We made sure to switch around jobs so we all got a chance to do everything.===
Then, we strung and hung their answers to the questions on the tree.
It was going really well! We were getting a lot of people. And the tree was filling up fast enough so that people even better, the people we talked to were really into talking about the questions and explaining their answers. Most interactions ended up turning into a discussion!===
We were going through strung paper strips almost faster than we could hang them. In fact, the person who was documenting often ended up having to miss the chance to document because they were trying to hang the backed-up answers or prepare the strips because we had so many people coming over.
We had some off time where people just didn’t walk by, or they weren’t interested in speaking with us, in which case we used the time to document the answers we’d gotten, and how full the tree was getting. We were really excited about the interesting and (often) different answers we were getting.
After almost three hours, the tree was getting so full it was hard to find a place to hang the new answers, and we started getting tired. Feeling like we had accomplished our goals and gotten even more interactions than we had expected, we started to pack up, making sure not to lose any of the answers. Again, we each hauled our supplies, this time back to where we had come from, and pleased with the day.We were extremely surprised with the turnout we received, having originally expected people to pass us by without a second look. The candy we had purchased to lure people in was not as necessary as we thought, because people were genuinely interested in our questions. I think each of us was surprised and intrigued by the complexity in some of the answers we received from our on-campus participants. Although some participants seemed surprised and slightly confused by our questions, others enjoyed the opportunity to speak out about their feelings towards to the future of higher education. It was interesting to hear so many different answers from students who attend the same university, experiencing the same institutional setbacks as one another.
“I was not really surprised with what people told us because some of us already came up with those answers as we were all supposed to come up with 4 answers to each question before our meeting. Although some ideas were expressed with different words, it was still bringing us around many of the ideas we identified previously during the course. We felt like people understood our questions and were really interested in giving their opinions regarding the issue. For example, I remember a female student I tried to interview, but she told me she had an exam. At first, I thought it was just an excuse so I was really surprised when she came back after her exam and gave her answers to the two questions. We even went into a long talk with her like if she kept our questions in mind as she was walking to her Spanish exam and couldn’t wait to tell us what she think about them. I believe we did a good job and I wouldn’t have expected better.
For once, I was not even shy in approaching people outside: in fact, I even enjoy myself doing this activity and even though we were ignored by some who didn’t want to be involved, I still enjoyed trying to get their attention. Based upon all the answers we got, I believe that many people might be willing to adhere to our movement because as students, they felt concerned talking about the problems everyone in higher education is facing, although only few expressing this frustration. People want to share their thoughts or issues but only need a mean to be heard.”
Please find the answers we documented below, and please excuse incorrect grammar or syntax; we recorded what they said to us verbatim.
What is an issue you have with the institution of higher education?
- That it’s necessary
- College is only option presented to students
- Too many pre-requisites
- SAT importance
- Access to jobs after
- Blocked out of classes because they’re full
- Teacher centered approach
- Assumes sameness
- Equity in accessibility
- Hard to sign in for some classes
- Teaching to the tests
- Imposed curriculum
- System set-up
- Myths and loopholes
- Too expensive
What’s the most important thing to you when it comes to higher education?
- Face time
- Holistic learning experience
- Experience of both learning and social/cultural
- Collaboration and discussion
- Future success in life and career
- Learn from others
- New experiences
- New experiences
- Applicable learning
- Job preparation
- Technical skills
- Job security
- Access to jobs and degree
- Job access
- Getting a degree