There is something special about the hustle and bustle of the fall semester. Whether it's traditional students moving on to campus with their every belonging and trying to get it all to fit in a 5x5 room, or an adult learner logging in to an online course for the first time, the educational journeys they have set out to embark on will undoubtedly reap great rewards for them down the line.
And every year, parents, students, or employers who are sending their employees back to school seek advice that can be give the new entering class.
Early on, try and figure out what you don't
Seems pretty simple, and pretty straight forward, right?
For traditional age students, it is almost cliche. Every year Beloit College puts together their famous "Mindset List
," to give entering college freshmen (and their professors and future employers) a peak at the things in life they simply don't know. I admit, it makes me feel a little old every time I read it, but it also puts a lot of things into perspective.
For non-traditional students and adult learners though, figuring out what you "don't know" is a little trickier. It's hard to set aside experience, biases, media and preconceived notions to start asking questions from scratch. And this year in particular (being an election year), there are probably a lot more questions to ask.
What Matters in Higher Education Today
For instance, every adult learner should spend some time figuring out exactly how the November elections will affect their academic goals. With so much buzz around legislation, funding, and educational initiatives, it is critical that people understand where this year's presidential candidates stand on issues surrounding higher education.
What is important when it comes to higher education policy? How will federal loans be affected by changes in leadership at both the state and national level? How will the landscape of higher education change overall change based on election outcomes?
These are all great questions, and I am sure there are hundreds more. Too often the topic of education gets put on the back burner, both for adults learners seeking degrees, as well as for employers who may be helping fund their education. But for both groups, there is too much at stake in this election to simply "not know" what's going on. Now more than ever, it is critical for EVERYONE to focus on what they don't
know. At that point, it is pretty easy to start looking for answers.