What Does Your College Prioritize?

What Does Your College Prioritize?

Applying for college is a headache- but your attention to detail will pay off
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Today, it is likely that most high school students will apply to college in order to gain some concentration in higher education. Students do this with the hopes of acquiring a dream job, or even just a stable job. However, the four years (and sometimes more) we spend in college will, ultimately, help define and shape us as young individuals. I am sure some of the current college readers can recall the stress of choosing a school that best fit your needs. So, one could say that the pressure to choose the 'perfect' school is pretty high.

When most high school students are narrowing their options for college they appear to focus on aspects such as major, location, social life, student-professor ratio, school size, etc. Now, while all of these aspects can influence one's decision, most students seem to forget about the specific focus the university puts on professors. Now, I realize that probably doesn't make much sense at the moment, but in time it will.

To start, I am going to give you an overview of the overall professor ranking. If you are already in college, you are probably thinking, 'aren't they all just professors?' (p.s. if you are a high school student, never call a professor a teacher-they hate it). And you would be right to think so. While they are all professors, they each are at a certain level within a ranking. There are three levels of professors; assistant, associate, and full. Many schools also have part-time or adjunct professors, but for this brief explanation the three will suffice. An assistant professor is an entry level position. An associate professor is typically appointed once the professor has worked at the institution for some time and has also contributed some meaningful research. A full professor is when professors acquire the golden ticket, tenure. For those who don't know what tenure is it's guaranteed job security at a specific institution. Of course, if the professor decide to commit a felony, tenure can't save them.

Phew, now that was a long and winded explanation, huh? I bet you are now thinking, 'why does this matter?' Well, I will tell you why. The process of moving up in ranking is based on a combination of three things; teaching, researching, and service. Professors are required to encompass these three aspects into their job. However, most promotions depend on which of the three the university values most (teach, research, service). If a professor works at an institution that is research-oriented (typically Ivy League schools), and publishes several articles in a journal, then they are more likely to climb the ladder to tenure faster. So, why is this all important when applying to college?


If you choose a research-oriented institution, the professors are most likely going to be more worried about producing excellent articles than teaching their students. If you look at many Ivy League schools you will notice that there are many student teaching assistants that instruct class. So, you have to ask yourself, if your professor is going to be focusing on their research, will they be able to provide you the education you are looking for? Most of the time, student's opinions of professors are skirted under the rug in research-oriented institutions. Why? Because the university is more concerned with the research they produce because it increases the image of the school.

On the flip side, if you choose a teaching-oriented school (typically small schools, i.e. Stonehill College) your professor is prioritizing teaching students first, and researching second. Thus, you are the professors main concern, even though the chant "publish or perish" is echoing in the professors mind. So, for those who go to a school with student course evaluations, do you ever wonder to what extent they listen to you? Typically at teaching-oriented schools, they do listen to the students. So if you give a professor a D, they will most likely be submitting their resume elsewhere. So at these universities, you have some control and say in who is teaching you. You are given a voice in your education.

Overall, one should take into account what the prospective universities prioritize. For some it may be research, for others it could be teaching. Since professors are trying to reach the end goal of tenure and promotion, they will likely attempt satisfy the universities desires (research, teach, service). However, your goal as a student is to gain a higher understanding in your desired field. So, it is important to try to align your goals with those of the professor and institution. Thus, I strongly recommend investigating what is going on under the hood of your prospective professors because when it comes down to it, they are the one's who will be teaching you the skills to accomplish your dreams in goals. So, don't you owe it to yourself to know that your professor and you have the same mentality?

Lastly, I want to echo that the professor is not evil for focusing on research instead of the student. Their work is contributing to the our large database of knowledge. As scholars, we could end up examining their work. So, no one institution is worse or better because it focuses on one aspect over the other. But, picking a college is a personal choice, and it is important to be completely informed before you make a life-altering decision.

So go forth, and think!



Cover Image Credit: Liberty Classical Academy

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Stop Discourging Future Teachers

One day, you'll be thankful for us.
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“What do you want to be when you grow up?" It seems like this is the question we heard from the time we were able to talk. Our answers started out as whatever movie or action figure was popular that year. I personally was going to be Cinderella and shoot spider webs out of my wrists at the same time. The next phase was spent choosing something that we read about in a book or saw in movies. We were aspiring to be actors, skydivers, and astronauts.

After we realized NASA may not necessarily be interested in every eager 10-year-old, we went through the unknown stage. This chapter of life can last a year or for some, forever. I personally did not have a long “unknown" stage. I knew I was going to be a teacher, more specifically I knew I wanted to do elementary or special education. I come from a family of educators, so it was no surprise that at all the Thanksgiving and Christmas functions I had actually figured it out. The excitement of knowing what to do with the rest of my life quickly grew and then began to dwindle just as fast.

“Why?"

"Well, looks like you'll be broke all your life."

“That's a lot of paperwork."

“If I could go back and do it again, I wouldn't choose this."

These are just a few replies I have received. The unfortunate part is that many of those responses were from teachers themselves. I get it, you want to warn and prepare us for the road we are about to go down. I understand the stress it can take because I have been around it. The countless hours of grading, preparing, shopping for the classroom, etc. all takes time. I can understand how it would get tiresome and seem redundant. The feeling a teacher has when the principal schedules yet another faculty meeting to talk an hour on what could've been stated in an email… the frustration they experience when a few students seem uncontrollable… the days they feel inadequate and unseen… the sadness they feel when they realize the student with no supplies comes from a broken home… I think it is safe to say that most teachers are some of the toughest, most compassionate and hardworking people in this world.

Someone has to be brave enough to sacrifice their time with their families to spend time with yours. They have to be willing to provide for the kids that go without and have a passion to spread knowledge to those who will one day be leading this country. This is the reason I encourage others to stop telling us not to go for it.

Stop saying we won't make money because we know. Stop saying we will regret it, because if we are making a difference, then we won't. Stop telling us we are wasting our time, when one day we will be touching hearts.

Tell us to be great, and then wish us good luck. Tell us that our passion to help and guide kids will not go unnoticed. Tell us that we are bold for trying, but do not tell us to change our minds.

Teachers light the path for doctors, police officers, firefighters, politicians, nurses, etc. Teachers are pillars of society. I think I speak for most of us when I say that we seek to change a life or two, so encourage us or sit back and watch us go for it anyways.

Cover Image Credit: Kathryn Huffman

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Mourning The Loss

She had no direction and already felt like she had lost herself, anyway.

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She wore her heart on her sleeve but covered her innermost feeling with laughs, smiles, and awkward jokes that only some thought were funny at all. She was happy on the outside and this got her to the place where she is now. Faking it till she made it made sense until she realized she didn't know what she was making it to.

Regardless, she was a bright light in the hallways of her grade school filled with small plastic chairs and brown square desks. She acted most days as a clown in the classroom in order for her to get some kind of attention. She worked on Accelerated Math and reading books extensively, and in her free time her studying habits were almost obsessive.


Brianna Gavin

When asked to do anything for anyone, she dropped all of what she was doing to help.

High school came around and after being separated from her best friend going to a different school, she knew this time she really had to reinvent herself. At first, she stayed in the bubble of grade school friends and found it hard to ever speak up about anything.


Brianna Gavin

She kept her mouth shut for the first year of high school and lived in the shadows of her siblings' bad decisions. That first year, teachers even called her "little Gavin".

As sophomore year of high school came around, she met a teacher that would forever change her life and brought her out of the shadow of her siblings past. She was the first teacher in that high school to see her as her own person, different from her family.

After meeting this teacher, she stepped into the role of being a leader. She went to summer leadership camps and became actively involved in the Social Committee of Student Council. She created a service club and became the president. She got over 100 hours of service done each year, went on mission trips, led and spoke her story at retreats, went to every football game dressed UP in the theme, and still had time to get a high GPA.


Brianna Gavin

She was KILLING it.

In the mornings before school started, she sat in her car for five minutes by herself to separate her home life from her school life. She listened to "One Man Can Change The World" by Big Sean and sang the words to herself as she began to put on a mask for the day.


Brianna Gavin

She was sometimes a clown. She'd walk around the hallways and go to class while eating boxes of cereal and constantly made jokes about ANYTHING going on. One thing you could always count on her for was authenticity and hope.


Brianna Gavin

Even at her job teaching kids how to swim, the second she came out in her brightly colored swimsuit, her kids were already there and ready to say hi to her. Kids would make her cards and families constantly asked her to babysit and told her stories of how much their kids loved her.


One day during school, she was awarded with a scholarship called "You Can Count On Me", given to her because of how reliable, dependable, and important she was to all those around her. She remembered the words that were said about her when she received the scholarship and those were the driving force for her to continue helping others and being there for herself.

But then came college. And with the goodbye to all of her friends, family, and popular school life also came the goodbye to herself.


Brianna Gavin

She now became something she didn't want to be anymore. She stayed in her room, struggled extensively with mental illness, and looked in the mirror without knowing what she was looking at. She didn't have many friends and she felt alone most of the time.

With change and loss, she lost herself. She, in a sense, died as soon as her relationships with those close friends and family died. And no matter how hard she tries, she will never be the happy, energetic, inspiring, motivational, giving, faithful, loving person she once was.

The truth she has to share...she is gone.

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