A recent poll of nearly 30,000 college graduates conducted jointly by Purdue University and Gallup, Inc. looked at the relationship between college experiences and college graduates’ lives post-graduation. The study examined workplace engagement and graduates’ sense of well-being as well as factors influencing students’ life while in college.
According to the results of this study, six factors emerged as important influences on graduates’ engagement and well-being. Over the next six weeks, our series, College Experiences That Lead to Well-Being After Graduation will examine each of these factors and how students can take control of their college experiences to make sure that they participate in the activities in college which will help them in the future. We hope parents will share these ideas with their college students to help them work to pursue these important experiences.
I had at least one professor who made me excited about learning.
This statement received the strongest support from graduates participating in this study, with 63% responding positively. That is good news. However, that means that another 37% of students never experienced this excitement in the classroom.
Colleges and college faculty members need to take note of this and perhaps help their colleagues rediscover some of their original excitement about their field of study. However, students can also work to ensure that they have positive classroom experiences.
- Excitement about a subject or field of study often begins with an open mind. Students can work to enter each new course with an open mind about what they will learn and how they will learn it. A topic that may seem unrelated to the student’s interests may have hidden value or connections after all. Perhaps lecture may not be a particular student’s favorite teaching/learning method, but he can work to find the new ideas, key concepts, and interesting theories in the seeming sea of words. A student who dislikes group work might need to work to learn from his peers rather than expecting everything to come directly from the professor. The student’s attitude will certainly affect his excitement about what he is learning.
- Students need to remember that true learning cannot be passive. Students must participate in the learning process, bringing their energy, their ideas, their questions and natural curiosity to the classroom. A true learning experience, an exciting learning experience, is a partnership between student and teacher. It is not something done to the student.
- Students can learn from other students which professors tend to motivate and excite them in the classroom. Of course, not all students respond the same way to teaching styles and personalities, and students sometimes have no choice of professors for certain subjects, but if there are outstanding professors on campus, students should seek them out as much as possible, even if it means expanding their horizons and trying new subjects.
- Finally, students can work to get to know their professors outside of the classroom. Students can make use of office hours or other opportunities to connect with faculty members. Faculty members need to work to be accessible, but students need to take advantage of every opportunity to get to know the person standing in front of the classroom. In almost every case, we learn more and are motivated by someone we know and respect. This, too, is a two-way partnership.
Students who are open to being excited about learning are more apt to get excited about learning.
Help your student think about why he is in school and what he hopes to learn. Help him think about the steps that he can take to make sure that he is moving in the direction of his goals. Help him think about who the people are on campus who can help light the fire of his interest in learning — and then how to seek those people out.