The best education is from experiential learning

Experiential learning is a vital part of any college student’s career, and should be an area of focus for the University to expand.

If you ask any graduate about where they learned the most while attending school, the odds are they will not say “in the classroom.” 

Knowledge gained while sitting in a classroom is knowledge very quickly forgotten. The traditional classroom model of lecture, notes and test very easily lends itself to being information that is only remembered for the test

If a student is simply learning materials to get a passing grade on a test, and then forgetting what they learned immediately after the test, then the University is failing at its mission to educate. 

So if that traditional format lends itself to fading education, what can the University do to better serve students?

Experience. Real world experience. 

People learn best when they get their hands dirty and really understand what it is like to be in a professional setting.

Students often find themselves in these programs as a requirement from their academic department, such as required internships, clinicals or student teaching. These are amazing resources for students to get a start on the career field and understand what they are getting into after graduation. 

Other departments have voluntary experiences, such as the College of Business’s integrated business experience, or voluntary internship credits for other departments. These are great options for students, if they understand how to get involved. 

There is certainly an argument to be made for classroom learning for several fields, as many of them need direct knowledge to set them up for success. However, even these classrooms could greatly benefit from simulating the real world in order to show students what that experience is like when not viewed through a textbook. 

There is a difference between memorizing and understanding, and a tool that the University can use to bridge that gap is implementation. 

Students who are able to learn something and then implement that knowledge are much more likely to retain it. 

If the aim for students attending our University is to truly educate and enhance their abilities for a career in the real world, then we should prioritize showing them what it is like to be in that real world. 

There should be a standard for all departments across the University requiring students to use the knowledge they gain in a practical setting. 

This could be anywhere between requiring the voluntary learning opportunities already offered, or the addition of new opportunities for departments that do not currently offer anything. 

As a whole, the University and its students would greatly benefit from an increase in experiential learning across the board. It has proven to have a positive impact on students who have partaken in these activities. 

The focus of the University should be on education and retention of knowledge, not passing a test.  

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