Week 10-The State of Higher Education Today

I really like the videos I watched this week. I have watched “a vision of student today” when I was in my undergraduate school while I was in Beijing, China. The instructor was from Chicago, and he showed us this video, and I was surprised by the education in U.S., as it was so different from what I thought the higher education in U.S. was.  After watching this video again today, I was not as surprised as the first time I saw it, on the other hand, I was kinda of agree with some of their statements.

The film “Declining by Degree: Higher Education at risk” is really eye-opening to me, I am so surprised to know how difficult it could be for many American students to go through undergraduate study, some of them have to work more than 40 hours per week in order to pay for tuition. Besides feeling surprised, I also feel lucky as well as a little guilty about myself, especially after seeing those young students who work very hard to pay for their own tuition. My parents paid all the cost for my undergraduate study in Beijing, and graduate study in WU, St. Louis, and I took it for granted that it’s their responsibility to support me, while I learned that it’s not the case in American culture, I don’t have any student loan or any financial stress during my education, but now I feel I should be grateful for my parents’ support, and the opportunity to pursue PhD degree.

I also learned about the differences between private school and public school in U.S. from the film, and also from my own experiences in Washington University in St. Louis and Virginia Tech. I find that what is reflected in the film is so true. The students in private school have smaller classes, and more resources, however, the education in private school tend to be commercialized.  The students are like the customers, and universities are like selling the degrees as products, so to make profit. While in public universities, due to limited funding and resources, and huge number of students, each student have limited access to communicate with the instructor, and get advices from the advisors.  As almost all the universities in China are public universities, so the disadvantages of public universities are similar there in China.  In addition, I think it’s also true in China that the teachers are evaluated more by research than by teaching, which really need to be improved.
I think the higher education in U.S. and in China all need improvement, and it need the joint effort from the students and their parents, the instructors, and the policy makers, and I have confidence that the situation can be improved if more people are willing to make efforts to change the current situation.


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