Students Crave a Story

Luke Rexing, Editor

As a student here at the University of Minnesota, I feel I have an obligation to voice my comments, concerns, and questions that I have for the education system that I find myself to be a part of. I am currently in the Carlson School of Management, with my major undecided, but leaning towards marketing. Why did I choose Carlson over the other schools here? Because I believed that a degree from this business school would “look good.” It probably does, but sometimes it doesn’t feel that way. I remain undecided in my major because I have not learned anything that has made me want to pursue any of the offered majors in Carlson thus far. Maybe this is a consequence of being only four semesters into my college experience, but this seems to be a problem in itself. Am I the only one still uninterested? Speaking with the other students around me, especially the young men, certainly I am not the only one. 

The issue I have is that we are essentially taking high school classes again. A high school class is designed to teach you to do the things that you don’t necessarily want to do – take notes about something uninteresting; memorize a few facts and definitions; regurgitate it back onto a piece of paper once a month; rinse and repeat. That is not education, that is repetition. That is learning that there will be undesirable tasks to complete. This is an important lesson, but I understand it very well already. My idea of “higher education” was one that would truly set me apart. It was not one of redundancy and memorization. It was one that would amplify and bring forth unique abilities, and integrate them amongst the others. On the contrary, it feels like what I am consuming is constraining my mind, rather than allowing it to flourish. 

Despite this concern, I am grateful for the opportunities that college has provided. I have met some fantastic friends, and made many memories alongside them. This is what college has become nowadays. From the perspective of a business student, it is not a place where we come to learn the ways of the great business owners, to learn from their mistakes and masterpieces, but rather a place to build our network. My question is this: Why can’t we have both? For example, my marketing professor owns her own business in the wedding industry. I know absolutely nothing about her business beyond that she owns it. In her class, I have been lectured on things like the Purchase Decision Process, segmentation, targeting, and positioning. I have been provided with the definition of each, as well as the occasional example of a company that may have used one of these tactics once. I would love a story. A story of how all of these concepts work together, how they are implemented and maintained, how they failed, etc. A story told with passion in the pursuit of exploration. Instead, it is a slideshow with the occasional meme, used as an attempt to re-engage the jaded dependents. 

I have been continuously asking myself if I am in the right place. Again, I am only two years in, and there is certainly a lot of time for my classes to become focused, and for my teachers to teach at the edge of their ability. However, I am unsure why this was not the case from the beginning. I love learning, but what I am currently learning is how to develop a network. As a young man, it is difficult to see the rates of young men coming to college declining. The rates of college attendance in general is declining. Did I make the right decision, or could I have used my time more wisely in a different experience? It may not be the most beneficial to dwell on time that has passed, but the fact that I have this unconscious response to the education system makes me question its validity. 

I say all of this to add to the overall conversation. I would love to offer a solution to this conundrum, but it seems to be rooted in something much deeper than the education system. There is a hint of something else seeping through the cracks and I am unsure what it really is. There is a scent of suppression of the free mind. A scent of the fine print, subconscious programming, or maybe even a faceless agenda. I could be overthinking it, but what if I’m not? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.