There’s a not so new debate over the benefit of single-sex educational settings and oddly enough, I find myself disagreeing with prominent organizations I usually side with. Full disclosure, I’m a product of a women’s college and I’m better for it. As an eager high school senior, my priority was not a college with academic rigor (though I knew I’d end up somewhere challenging), in fact it was to have a positive social experience with other women. From the time I was in middle school, the mean girls were especially mean and I felt a sense of isolation not having that best girl friend. I don’t know why, but at the time, attending a women’s college seemed to be the answer. In the end, I had an unbelievably fulfilling academic experience and I did in fact develop the most positive friendships with other women that make up for the years of mean girls.
What’s fascinating to me about some of the arguments against single-sex education in the elementary and secondary years are the fact that they are based on gender, not sex (I won’t even get in to that here) and they suggest single sex education perpetuates stereotypes. The fact of the matter is that scientific evidence and experiential data shows girls and boys often learn differently and thrive in different settings. In my mind, this is not a bad thing, it just is, but I find many want to ignore this difference in favor of the ever growing movement to erase difference. Obviously it’s important for girls and boys to socialize and learn to interact – that is another reality – but in a country where our students are performing below practically all of our international peers, it might be smart to consider alternative options and structures. The opportunities for learning are vast, as are the opportunities for socialization so educational experiences don’t have to be exclusively single-sex, but perhaps if it was an option for some classes or components, we might see some interesting trends and changes. In other words, to teach to girls or to boys (aka to the stereotype) may actually better meet the needs of students and create environments where students are not forced to fit molds that inherently may not fit. I’m not suggesting all girls and all boys learn exactly the same way, but I think anything that may strengthen our public school systems is worth a try.
If you’re interested in reading more about this debate, check out Single Sex Classes Popular As More Public Schools Split Up Boys And Girls
We recently learned another celebrity’s child was offered a football scholarship to UCLA (Cordell Broadus, Snoop Dogg’s Son, Awarded UCLA Football Scholarship As High School Sophomore) and I continue to wonder what message this sends. I generally agree with the idea of merit based scholarships; it’s true people should be rewarded for their hard work, but when it comes to college, the idea of merit scholarships is a little more confusing.
I know very little about sports, so perhaps I’m not the best person to critique UCLA’s decision, but I suspect in sports, like other extra curricular activities and academic enrichment, it takes money to reach one’s full potential. By money, I mean enrolling in special camps, classes, workshops etc and while there are scholarships to access these opportunities, let’s be real, those are hard to come by.
So, back to people getting athletic scholarships who can clearly afford to pay for college. I can’t say I agree with UCLA. I’m not saying these talented student athletes shouldn’t gain admission. They should. They should also have a spot on the athletic team. But, I’m not sure they should be awarded a scholarship, a form of financial aid. In an era where highly capable students cannot fulfill their college dreams because of money, in my mind, it sends exactly the wrong message that UCLA is choosing to give money to children of millionaires (and then make sure the whole world knows they did). I understand the money comes from a separate pool of money than the regular financial aid pool, but a scholarship is scholarship and I can’t imagine there isn’t another equally talented athlete who needs the money to attend UCLA.
I think if UCLA was a leader in awarding comprehensive financial aid packages, I might have a different opinion, but the UC isn’t affordable for many students. In fact, for some, attending a private institution is more affordable because of financial aid packages.
Interesting read by Stephen Beal, President, California College of the Arts: What Is the Value of a College Degree?
An excerpt reads:
Interdisciplinary, collaborative, diverse, project-based, and inclusive — these terms describe the learning environment we strive to create. It also describes the evolving and expanding workplace our new graduates will enter. Despite gloomy news stories about the scarcity of jobs, creative people are in demand, and will continue to be. According to a recent study by the National Endowment for the Arts, jobs in the creative sector will increase overall by 11 percent in the next six years, with some careers projected to grow at a much higher rate, especially curators, interior designers, animators, illustrators, architects, and writers.
A must read for anyone who has gone to college, wants to go to college or is paying for someone to go to college: The Cost of College Will Soar if Interest Rates Allowed to Double.
And the follow-up: Congress Votes To Stop Student Loan Interest Rates From Doubling
We spend years preparing our children to be competitive for college admission, but are we missing something else major? It seems the answer is “yes” – we are failing to prepare our children to persist and graduate from college.
It’s not new to those in the world of higher education, nonetheless, the sting doesn’t seem to subside each time I read something like is:
Although high school graduates are attending college in record numbers, four in 10 are not adequately prepared for the courseload that awaits them, and are thus forced into remedial classes when they start college. This fact contributes to a staggering number of students pursing a bachelor’s degree — 42 percent, according to the infographic — to drop out. This number is about 30 percent higher at the two-year or community college level. – U.S. Graduation Rate, Unemployment Compared To Other Nations In Infographic
Those who have a vested interest talk about education all the time, we blog about it, advocate for better policies, programs and protocols, we watch documentaries, support innovative programs and yet the reality doesn’t seem to shift much from year to year. Though I’m intimately aware of the facts, as a college educated person, I, like many of my college-educated peers, sometimes forget the fact that not everyone goes to college.
In college-educated circles (or those presumed to be), one of the first questions is almost always, “where did you go to college” and in these same circles, people discus how a college degree is necessary in this global economy. But, are we the ones living in a bubble? I think sometimes, yes. There are plenty of jobs that need to be executed everyday that most college-educated people would never do, but certainly benefit from.
Truth be told (and this comes as no surprise), I do think the value of a college education can be transformative, but at the same time, I think it’s critically important for students to explore why a college education is important to them. Certainly many go to college “just because”, it’s not even a question, but others make a very deliberate decision to go and I wouldn’t be surprised if the latter group fights just a little harder to graduate because many weren’t always expected, allowed or able to go to college.
As June comes to end, if you’re a rising senior, the fun is about to begin with the infamous short answer and personal statement. Come July, it’s time to officially start writing. Some of you have already taken many steps to ensure success, while others haven’t begun, but wherever you are in your process, consider this: