Vital Signs

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

My meeting with the college dean was a disillusioning experience.  I had figured that it would take about ten minutes to fill out the required paperwork to transfer from this private college to a state university, but, when I emerged a half-hour later, I realized how naive I had been about higher education.  I had only expected to go through the formalities, but the dean forced me to explain my decision in full.  I told him that my classes had been unsatisfying and the books I was studying, insignificant.  He told me I was making a mistake, that I would be lost amidst the chaos of a public university.  His manner, more than his words, shook me: He spent the whole time sighing, and by his look he seemed to think that I would soon be a college dropout.  I returned to my dorm room in tears.  I had come to realize that I would not get an education where I was, and the dean had insisted I would not find one where I was going.  Unfortunately, we were both correct, at least in part.  American colleges are not educational institutions.

I did not learn this lesson from books but from experience.  As a student who has attended three different colleges, I have learned not to put my faith in the institution of the university.  Of course, I was reared to be skeptical.  After sending me to a private school for kindergarten and first grade, my mother decided that she could teach me better...

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