Mission Statements: Measure of Value

During my time exploring colleges and universities to attend for my undergraduate and graduate degrees, I never really looked at the mission statements. When I was researching about higher education institutions, I never thought about what the goals of the university or college could be because I was too busy trying to figure what the requirements for test scores and GPAs were, the projected tuition estimates, or the application fee. I looked at everything, but the mission statement. At the time, I thought considering what the mission statement was more of an amenity than direction or reflection of the institution. But are mission statements more than simple paragraph on a webpage? Or they just something every institution posts to follow the requirements? Mission statements help to give the public clarity about the intention and goals of the institution, but with everything students have to factor into their decisions about applying or deciding to attend a certain university or college, can mission statements provide clarity beyond the requirements and academic?

When I research a few different mission statements from universities for this assignment, there were two mission statements from different universities that stood out to me as revealing hidden differences that requirement standards don’t reveal. Yet, more importantly, these mission statements exposure individuals to a voice for these universities. The first is Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. It is a private Ivy League research university in the United States. Its mission statement says:

The mission of Brown University is to serve the community, the nation, and the world by discovering, communicating, and preserving knowledge and understanding in a spirit of free inquiry, and by educating and preparing students to discharge the offices of life with usefulness and reputation. We do this through a partnership of students and teachers in a unified community known as a university-college.

Brown University begins to set the tone as a serious institution that is looking to the greater world and has big expectations for its students. The mission statement also directs attention to the relationship between students and teachers. It describes the relationships of teachers and students as the university’s method to achieving its goals in changing lives and learning. Yet, another university presents itself very differently that creates a very different image, but also a very distinctive outlook on how mission statement can reveal evidence about the institution.

The University of Exeter in South West England is a public research university in the United Kingdom. The school’s mission statement speaks to the public instead of describing its mission like Brown University’s. Its mission statement says:

We transform lives through the power of higher education. A leading international university, we undertake groundbreaking research and deliver a world-class student experience in a campus environment of outstanding natural beauty.

The University of Exeter describes what is strives to do for its students rather than its expectations or goals for the students. This mission statements looks at the present for the students while it describes what the institution does for the students. In some ways, it is more direct than the Brown University mission statement because it frames its message for the students and wider community.

Both of these mission statements provide details about what the intuitions aims to achieve but the different approaches show something that is different from facts and requirements of the university. Brown University provides more information and looks to the future. It gives an indication about how the university carries out its goal. However, the University of Exeter articulates what it does for the students. It discusses how the campus looks and what type of research happens. While both move to seek more knowledge, the mission statements describe opposite paths and atmospheres. Yet, does it matter?

When students make the decision to try to get a higher education, it is a huge commitment and sometimes it comes with a lot of tough decisions to make. So many of the decisions that students have to make are practical or responsible, there isn’t much room to consider how individuals would fit into an university’s bigger picture. While there are other factors that are contemplated, mission statements give students a change to read how the university or college presents itself, its voice. Mission statements aren’t a numerical measure of requirement or another hoop for applicants to jump through. They are ideals that measure what a university values and attempts to accomplish.

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