OPINION | Students should learn, not just pass

For me, high school was a time when my extracurricular activities outweighed my school work.

I’d put my time into my school work at school, but my hours outside of school were spent playing sports, participating in various school clubs and spending time with family and friends.

I really didn’t have to sit down and think critically about anything. I figured all of this would change once I came to college.

And for the most part, it did.

It didn’t happen overnight, though.

New York University sociologist Richard Arum recently performed a study in which he followed more than 2,000 college students from fall 2005 to spring 2009.

He found that 45 percent of college students made no significant improvement on their critical thinking, writing and reasoning skills during their first two years of school.

The statistic shows that college students have too many distractions and that they should work harder to improve these skills earlier in their college careers.

They could learn and accomplish so much more if these skills were developed sooner.

I only wish that I had thought of this in high school or even my freshman year of college.

I can see the statistic play out in my own college experience.

I dabbled in different clubs and activities my first couple years of college.

Some of the activities pertained to my major and others to philanthropy groups and entertainment.

But during my junior and senior year, I put all of my time and effort into a couple of activities.

Since doing this, I have accomplished so much more in a short amount of time.

Focusing on a few things rather than many has allowed me to devote more time and energy to certain projects and explore more of the things that matter to me.

If I had discovered this tactic in high school or even early in college, I could have narrowed down my activities sooner and had more time to focus on activities that I can learn the most from and make the biggest impact possible.

I also found that in my early years of college, my only focus was on getting good grades.

I didn’t care that I wasn’t thinking through concepts fully. I was only regurgitating information to get the end result.

If students think critically about their assignments, not on ways of getting an A, I think the critical thinking, reasoning and writing skills will develop sooner.

This will only enhance the collegiate experience.

Also, college faculty and staff can help in the development of these skills earlier.

Instead of a professor giving test upon test, he should sit down with students and have discussions one-on-one.

This shows students that their professors don’t only want  students to learn information and then regurgitate it, but also care about what a student actually thinks and understands.

This technique would cause students to think more about particular subjects and actually understand and remember the information.

If this technique were implemented early in a college career, students would have more time to grow and to develop their skills.

The end result would be better for the students and for colleges and universities.

Students would develop skills sooner, enhancing colleges’ images in the public eye.

It’s a win-win for all.

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