This is a continuation of last week’s post, “Most College Students Don’t Have ‘The College Experience’.
I was unusual in that I could have gotten ‘The College Experience’ if I wanted to, yet I *chose* the commuter college track. This shocked quite a few people. After all, who would go the commuter school route if they could have the ‘full’ college experience?
Based on my research, I figured I could learn more at the commuter colleges than the ‘College Experience’ colleges.
Let’s look at the teachers. Research universities choose professors based on their ability to do research. Commuter colleges choose professors based on their ability to teach. Undergrad classes at research universities are often taught by grad students. Most classes at commuter colleges are taught by experienced teachers.
In my field of interest, I found that ‘The College Experience’ would have entailed me taking a lot of pointless classes, whereas the commuter schools would not. One source told me that this was on purpose, to keep students in school longer (and paying more money to the institution). I also talked to students who took on ‘The College Experience’ in spite of this problem … and they did not seem too happy with wasting at least one year of their finite lives.
There were other issues too, but what it boils down to is that it seemed the commuter schools were a lot more focused on their mission of helping students learn than the ‘College Experience’ schools.
But I was naive to think that people value college as a place of learning.
My parents supported me from the beginning, in fact, they even encouraged me do ditch ‘The College Experience’. But some people claimed I was making a big mistake. So I asked them to explain.
They did not argue based on learning. They knew my research on that matter was pretty conclusive. Instead, they claimed that everyone needed the experience of wasting a year of their lives to adjust to ‘campus living,’ and that this ‘campus living’ was something so special I needed it in my life.
I got what their real message was. I was a traitor to the upper middle class by insisting on choosing a school good for my learning instead of a school good for my reputation.
Well, they couldn’t stop me, and after seeing how I fared in college, they came to think that I made the right decision (or at least an okay decision).
I haven’t even touched on finances (‘The College Experience’ is a lot more expensive than commuter colleges – which helps explains why my parents, who were paying, favored commuter schools).
I think one of the greatest benefits of going to commuter colleges was the diversity of the people I encountered. Diverse ages (16-50), diverse ethnicities, diverse classes, diverse living arrangements, diverse relationship statuses, diverse life backgrounds, and so on. I probably learned a lot more about different kinds of people in commuter colleges than I ever would have in ‘The College Experience’.