Jan
25

It’s about diversity of experience: A response.

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Today’s PRiscope is penned by Maggie Rose, Bowdoin ’17

The employment advantages of attending a college or university in an urban area were perfectly emphasized by Steve Cody in a recent blog post: By attending a school in a city, you are already located “where the strategic jobs of the future will be in greatest demand.” To study in a large city, a student is given the means to make serious steps in the right and desired career direction. It’s true – you cannot find the same extent of President Joseph Aoun’s “robot-proof professions” around rural campuses. The economic health of the surrounding communities in the most prestigious ivy-covered schools are not able to offer the same amount of professional opportunities than that of schools located in urban areas.

However, there are three things the campuses with neo-Gothic buildings will always have over any city location – and these advantages are most definitely appealing to employment recruiters.

Diversity of Thought: Colleges and universities located in urban areas typically have their undergraduate students enroll in one academically focused school to help students specialize in their areas of interest. This is true of Michigan, NYU, B.U. and almost all other large, city schools. Colleges and universities located in rural areas are more likely to have students enroll in a general curriculum where a specialization is not necessary until upper-classman years. These schools encourage thinking outside of the box and exploring areas outside of comfort zones to gain what the Huffington Post labels as a, “cross-disciplinary perspective.” Graduates coming from Yale or Williams may be in a better position to handle a wider and more challenging variety of projects in the workplace. Rural campuses do not teach their students to think only in one direction.

Critical Thinking Skills: Students at rural schools are strongly encouraged to think analytically. Classes emphasize writing and critical thinking as the foundation to any and all academic progress, no matter the field. Class size is also significantly smaller, making participation much more valuable. U.S. News states, “research has shown that smaller classes foster a productive and positive learning environment.” A student coming from a liberal arts school has stronger written and oral communication skills simply because of the amount of critical thinking and participation necessary to do well in classes.

Sense of Community: Rural campuses foster a sense of community that is irreplaceable. A student has the chance to become closer to their peers, professors and even their administrators. While there might be more extracurricular opportunities at larger city schools, participation is higher in student organizations on rural campuses because of the confidence an on-campus community can stimulate. Employers want a college grad for much more than just their academic achievements. Students at rural schools are extraordinarily involved in community building, crisis management and organization through student activities.

College should be more than just a step in life to get a job. A high school graduate should go to college to expand their mind and horizons, making moves outside of their comfort zones every day. Urban and rural schools both have serious, but different advantages in a young adults’ career trajectory. Neither location is better than the other, but there is a reason “the bucolic New England village with tree-lined quads” continues to embrace the titles of best schools in the nation.

 

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3 Comments

1

Maggie Rose, taking on the big man! All excellent points, and wonderfully balanced. I chose a school in a city (and with mandatory work experience) because I wanted opportunity. But I also chose a school that still had a campus feel, a central student “hub,” and Greek life. No 17-year-old knows with certainty what they will do for the rest of their lives. Balance is important.

2

I wish I could agree, but you’ve badly mischaracterized just about every great urban school in the country. I guarantee Northeastern offers exponentially more majors than Bowdoin and every other small, liberal arts school north of Fenway Park. You’re also off-base on your point about engaging in the local neighborhood. Don’t get me wrong. I love to travel to Maine every Summer to climb Mt. Katahdin on the Canadian border and Otter Cliffs in Bar Harbor (and love the latter’s hood), but Beantown’s incredible cultural offerings are unmatched by any U.S. metropolis. Why do you think it’s known as the “Athens of America?” Last, but not least, Northeastern not only boasts a 91 percent job placement rate for graduates but places nearly every one in a job in his or her career of choice. And they do so in hundreds of countries around the globe. Beats flipping burgers at McDonald’s, no? I do hope your high cost, small liberal arts diploma enables you to at least begin paying off a huge chunk of the student loan you must have borrowed. I also hope you find a job that’s remotely connected to your field of study (and still exists in 2027). But, you need to do a whole lot more research on the realities of the broken liberal arts model. Northeastern is one of a handful of schools that have figured out the perfect mix of practical and theoretical learning in the fields of study that will matter most when you reach the age of 30. I don’t envy your current situation but wish you the best of luck.

3

I wish I could agree with you, Steve. While several of your points are valid regarding the benefits of attending an urban school, you can’t negate the difference in benefits that small, liberal arts school offer that urban schools simply cannot. Yes, I went to Rutgers, but one of the things that helped prepare me the most was being a part of the Douglass Residential College for Women during my time there. In short, a small community inside of a larger one. They had a dedicated and supportive alumni network that was separate from Rutgers which helped prepare me with mentorship, advice, externships and various opportunities that went far beyond what the big web of Rutgers could provide for each individual student. Simply too large to operate on the individual scale in every case. Each student’s college experience is personal and works best if it’s customized to your learning style and needs. It goes far beyond the majors offered or amount of jobs readily available in your area. I mean, half the people at Peppercomm didn’t go to college and study Public Relations. Also, a good majority of them are not originally from New York, which means they were able to find work apart from relying on where they attended school.

Additionally, I think it a bit close minded to project that there is only one way of reaching success and that if you miss that avenue you are destined to flip burgers at McDonald’s. Just because your experience produced specific results doesn’t mean someone else’s won’t achieve the same outcome.But that’s just my two sense. Seems like you’ve really riled up Da Pod on this one :).

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