HYTeenBeat: Pushing the Boundaries of Education

“Education is the process of facilitating learning.”
Dr. Ronald Esposito at NYU

Everything we learn can be adapted to our lives in a variety of ways, but what really goes into the learning process? How can we apply what we learn to improve our daily lives and ourselves? It is in pushing the boundaries of education as far as possible that we enable ourselves to become a well-rounded individual in every aspect imaginable. As we progress in life, we constantly continue to learn and grow.

School is an institution where certain types of learning take place. The networking that takes place in our formative educational years can open up doors for us that were previously inaccessible to us. More specifically, higher education offers us the opportunities and stepping-stones we need to think in new patterns, to examine alternative points of view, etc., with more focus, and more purpose. Our elementary and secondary school training provides us with the basic academic, communicative, organizational and interpersonal skills required to succeed in more intellectually and socially advanced circles, preparing students to take their next steps in the “real world,” either in advanced education or in their first professional endeavors.

In senior year of high school most young people preparing to graduate find themselves making huge decisions that will affect the rest of their lives. Among them is the choice of pursuing a post-secondary degree or to search for a professional opportunity. Let’s take some time to reflect on the possibilities made available through the pursuit of a college degree or postsecondary certification program….

The much-anticipated Fall Term is the time of year when college application deadlines are typically due. Many high school juniors and seniors are heavily engaged in the process of pushing their boundaries at various levels, giving serious consideration to their needs and goals. While taking the PSATs/SATs, preparing application packets, saving up to pay the numerous fees, attending open houses, preparing for interviews, essay writing, resume building, etc. the entire college process can be very stressful. It can affect a student’s dynamics with their peers, mentors and family.

Many students face a variety of pressures from parents, teachers, friends, and other people who are major influences in their lives, which often adds to existing concerns and stress levels. In current times, an increasing number of students face concerns about the cost of pursuing an advanced education, which in turn influences where they choose to attend, what they major in, etc. Other very common dilemmas include the selection a specific area of interest to major/minor in. Let’s break these and a few other major issues down and tackle them one at a time:

  • An important starting point for our discussion is the fact that the only thing that is more expensive than getting a college education is not getting one. In general, having a solid education puts an individual in a higher income bracket, helps to enrich the person’s life with a diversified and well-rounded combination of training and experience, and empowers young people to make wise decisions. While there are a few exceptions to the rule, according to articles in S. News & World Report and The New York Times, the earning gap of young adults with and without postsecondary degrees has stretched to its widest level in nearly half a century.

So you tell me… Is it worth the effort to apply, attend and succeed? Absolutely!

  • Where one chooses to attend college may be based on different personal and pragmatic factors, including financial resources, professional and personal goals, geographic location, proximity to home, the size, stability and reputation of the institution, the types of programs offered (certification, associates, baccalaureate, graduate, etc.). It’s important to remember that the choice ultimately depends on the student’s particular needs and preferences.

If you’re planning to apply to college but are uncertain about your preferences, take the time to speak with a guidance counselor or a mentor you respect who is in the field you one day hope to enter into. Learn more about your options and available resources before choosing your colleges.

  • Similarly, picking majors and minors should also be based on the student’s personal needs and preferences. At present it is very common for college freshmen that start with a specific major to switch into another major/program by their sophomore or junior year. Regardless of whether a student starts college with a specific major they are expected to complete a certain number of core Liberal Arts and Sciences courses, so the perceived stress that many high school students feel about this aspect of applying and attending college can be reduced significantly by the knowledge that they can simply opt to complete the core courses in their first year and take a bit more time in selecting a major/minor that suits them best.

If you’re interested a very specific program (pre-law, pre-med, psychology, mathematics, etc.) based on an avid interest, be sure to choose colleges that offer these specific programs and opt to take a few elective courses that will fulfill alternate interests you have but don’t necessarily wish to pursue as a career option.

Going through the entire college application process (resume building, essay writing, deadlines, personal statements, entrance exams, interviews, open houses, letters of recommendations, etc.) while maintaining the standards or their current school to qualify for graduation… can be a serious source of anxiety for young people. Be assured that this is all part of the journey we all encounter as we dare to push the boundaries of our education. In future year’s young professionals typically look back this time in their lives with a smile because their hard work turned out to be extremely rewarding in more ways than they could have imagined.

One ultimately benefits by pushing the boundaries of one’s education. Don’t be afraid to push those boundaries as far as possible!