“Mr. Herring - did you hear about the rock wall?”
“No - what rock wall? And what about it?”
“XYZ University just built a rock wall next to the student center! And it’s close to the lazy river. I know where I’m going to college!”
This paraphrased conversation is based on a real discussion I had with a student two years ago. The student had just returned from visiting a nearby university, and he came to Senior Seminar ready to tell me all about it. I expected to hear something about the professors, the degrees, the class sizes, or even the cafeteria food; I would have been excited for commentary on a protest, or even the architecture. I was not expecting “the rock wall” to be the highlight of his two day campus visit.
This conversation was not unique. Each year, my students visit colleges; unfortunately, they focus on the wrong aspects. Flash and dash impresses them; shiny new buildings are all the rage. It’s even better if they visit on a game day! Students return convinced that they have to go to the school with the new tennis courts and the massive gym complex. In being impressed by such things, they miss the point of collegiate education.
Colleges gamble on students being an easy sell. It is not hard to sell a vision of college as entertainment. “Come join our party! Have a good time - life is always like a football game!” And the method works: When colleges build new dorms and shiny new classroom buildings, applications rise.
I can hear the question now - what’s wrong with all of those things? Two problems exist with the status quo (the way things currently are), and they are why Thales College emphasizes academic study over superfluous non-essentials.