The Concept Of “Academic Ability” In American Higher Education Is Skewed

The Concept Of “Academic Ability” In American Higher Education Is Skewed

The kids' ability to be creative, that is.

Picture this: you’re 22 years old, recently graduated with an undergraduate degree from a university that you would have sold an arm or a leg to get into four years ago. In high school, you spent your afternoons making passable grades (primarily excelling in the Arts and English), creating art and pocketing a sketchbook with you wherever you went. As a recent college grad, you now have the “world at your fingertips” according to last week’s graduation speaker and until you figure out your “next step,” you also have a one-way ticket to the guest room in the basement of your parents’ new downsized home (which you’ve featured a doleful sketch of in your pocket-sized sketchbook that is now tattered and ripping from countless teachers confiscating it over the years only for you to repossess “at the end of class”).

Perhaps by this point, you have stopped using the right side of your brain all together because growing up, your teachers only tended to the left side of your brain, the “academic” side of your brain. Your right side has almost always been neglected except for those rare moments in college when you got the chance to illustrate something on the board, or draw out a picture of the velociraptor you were trying to study for geology sophomore year. Why is this? Why is it that colleges are not educating students in creativity the way they educate and enforce mathematics and science? Why is it that in third grade (and into college), you were taught that you are not “smart” because you could not complete 60 multiplication problems in one minute.

However, when asked to draw a picture of your dream from the night before and explain it to the class, you had all 23 of your classmates, including your third grade teacher, lured into the palm of your hand, awaiting the next detailed adventure that your dream conducted. Why is it that I can name a handful of recent high school graduates who have chosen “business” as their major despite their natural-born abilities to excel in the studio and performing arts? Is it because someone along the line laughed when they said they want to be an “artist” or a “performer” when the grow up? Or is it because their parents and teachers scoffed at the idea of spending more money on a college education than the average artist even makes in a year?

I argue that our concept of “academic ability” in American higher education is a skewed one and ought to be reconstituted to foster a greater need for the rare (and often suppressed) capacity to be creative. Perhaps the “creative” thinkers would excel rather than being forced into a field outside of their skill set only because it is “stable” and “useful.” The ability to cultivate original ideas that have value and progressive potential is largely replaced in higher education by the need to understand data and numbers or navigate code and technology. After all, when it comes to creative and emotional intelligence, technology can only go so far.

Cover Image Credit: kaboompics

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Getting Straight A's In College Is Not Worth Failing Your Mental Health

A's are nice, but you are more than a letter.


The idea of getting an A on every paper, every exam, every assignment, seems great. It can be known as a reassurance of our hard work and dedication to our 4+ classes we attend every single day.

Losing sleep, skipping meals, forgetting to drink water, skipping out on time with friends and family; these are the things that can occur when your letter of an A is what you are living for.

You are worth more than the grade letter, or the GPA number on your transcript.

Listen, don't get me wrong, getting A's and B's definitely is something to feel accomplished for. It is the approval that you did it, you completed your class, and your hard work paid off.

But honey, get some sleep.

Don't lose yourself, don't forget who you are. Grades are important, but the true measurement of self-worth and accomplishment is that you tried your best.

Trying your best, and working hard for your goals is something that is A-worthy.

Reserve time for yourself, for your sanity, your health, your mental health.

At the end of the day, grades might look nice on a piece of paper, but who you are and how you represent yourself can be even more honorable.


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Martha McSally Could Still End Up In The Senate

Yep, you read that right. Martha McSally, who lost the senate race a month ago, could still end up in the U.S. Senate next to her former opponent, Kyrsten Sinema.


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