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

Popular Right Now

19 Things About Being a Nursing Major As Told By Michael Scott

Michael just gets it.

If you're a nursing major, you relate to the following 19 things all too well. Between your clinical encounters and constant studying, you can't help but wonder if anyone else outside of your major understands the daily struggles you face in nursing school. And even though being the regional manager of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company, Inc. isn't the same as being a nursing major, Michael Scott does a pretty accurate job of describing what it's like.

1. When your professor overloads your brain with information on the first day of class.

2. Realizing that all your time will now be spent studying in the library.

3. Being jealous of your friends with non-science majors, but then remembering that your job security/availability after graduation makes the stress a little more bearable.

4. Having to accept the harsh reality that your days of making A's on every assignment are now over.

5. When you're asked to share your answer and why you chose it with the whole class.

6. Forgetting one item in a "select all that apply" question, therefore losing all of its points.

7. When you're giving an IV for the first time and your patient jokingly asks, "This isn't your first time giving one of these, right?"

8. You're almost certain that your school's nursing board chose the ugliest scrubs they could find and said, "Let's make these mandatory."

9. Knowing that you have an important exam that you could (should) be studying for, but deciding to watch Netflix instead.

10. Getting to the first day of clinical after weeks of classroom practice.

11. When you become the ultimate mom-friend after learning about the effects various substances have on the human body.

12. Running off of 4-5 hours of sleep has become the new norm for you.

13. And getting just the recommended 7-8 hours makes you feel like a kid on Christmas morning.

14. You have a love-hate relationship with ATI.

15. When your study group says they're meeting on a Saturday.

16. Choosing an answer that's correct, but not the "most" correct, therefore it is wrong.

17. And even though the late nights and stress can feel overwhelming,

18. You wouldn't want any other major because you can't wait to save lives and take care of others.

19. And let's be honest...

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Queer Eye Gifs For Every College Student's Moods

Who better to represent the up and downs of college than the Fab Five?


Queer Eye has taken college campuses by storm. I had no idea who they were when is stepped on campus in August, and now along with 85% of the female population, I am obsessed with five fabulous, gay men who change lives. So it's only fitting to represent my every mood with a Fab Five gif.

When your friends hold your to your plans to go out on Thursday night.

Thirsty Thursday always sounds like a great idea until it's 11:30 and all you want to do is sleep and watch Netflix.

Finding out class is cancelled.

Better than a good morning from any boy ever.

Thinking about another cafeteria meal.

There's only so many slices of pizza and bowls of cold pasta you can take.

When your friends are having mental breakdowns.

It happens to the best of us, and whether it's crying in library or at their apartment, you're always there for them.

Watching frat pledges.

From tabletop motivational speeches in the caf or swimming in the fountains, watching pledges are one of the most enjoyable parts of college.

When you actually do make it out on Thirsty Thursday.

Or when High School Musical comes on while you're in the car with your friends.

Trying to make it to your 8:00 AM when you wake up at 8:05.

We have all done the sprint of shame.

When you ace an assignment that you though you bombed.

It is a rare occurrence, but it does happen, and it is the best feeling in the world.

Opening the first page of an exam and realizing you know nothing.

No amount of studying can prepare you for the terror the some professors unleash.

When your roommate cooks for the first time.

We ALL have that friend who swears up and down they can cook, and they most definitely cannot.

When you decide to start a project in your room at 3 a.m.

It seems like such a great idea, until the next morning when you wake up in the middle of a disaster covered in glitter and regret.

When your friend finally shows up for class.

It sounds like a great idea to take a class with your friend until they quit coming and you have to sit by yourself.

Making an awful joke and getting actual laughs in return

Being accepted, bad jokes and all is, is what college friends are about.

Related Content

Facebook Comments