Opinion | After 4 Years of College, Too Many Students Don’t Know Where to Go Next

8/15/2022 2:06:00 PM

The liberal arts can help students lead happier lives.

College, Thomas Aquinas

“Many institutions today have forgotten that liberal education itself was meant to teach the art of choosing, to train the young to use reason to decide which endeavors merit the investment of their lives,” write Benjamin Storey and Jenna Silber Storey.

The liberal arts can help students lead happier lives.

Our star student walks up to the lunch table with what seems like good news. The fellowship is now hers; next fall she will be off to teach English on the other side of the globe. She has trained her energies on this goal for many months and wants to accept it in grateful triumph. But her eyes are red and tired. She is not sure she wants the prize she has worked so hard to win.

The thought is raised halfheartedly. It sounds more like a doubt about the step she is about to take than a choice she would seriously consider. It’s as though a life that rejects striving altogether is the only alternative she can imagine to a life of striving without purpose.

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and Jenna Silber Storey Dr.By COLLIN BINKLEY AP Education Writer August 09, 2022, 2:01 AM 3:45 Instructor Oh Moon Kwon, left, speaks to students during a math class, part of an intense six-week summer bridge program for students of color and first-generation students at the University of Wisconsin, in Madison, Wis..02:21 NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.

Storey and Dr. Silber Storey are the authors of “Why We Are Restless: On the Modern Quest for Contentment. Seated, in the flowered black shirt is Angel Hope, who said he didn't feel ready for college after online classes in high school caused him fall behind, but says the bridge classes made him feel more confident.” Our star student walks up to the lunch table with what seems like good news. Monkeypox is zoonotic, meaning it spreads from animals to humans. The fellowship is now hers; next fall she will be off to teach English on the other side of the globe. (AP Photo/Carrie Antlfinger) The Associated Press Angel Hope looked at the math test and felt lost. She has trained her energies on this goal for many months and wants to accept it in grateful triumph..

But her eyes are red and tired. But on this test — a University of Wisconsin exam that measures what new students learned in high school — all he could do was guess. Before the current outbreak, "almost all monkeypox cases in people outside of Africa were linked to international travel to countries where the disease commonly occurs or through imported animals," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She is not sure she wants the prize she has worked so hard to win. Her adviser has just reassured her that this experience will “open doors. Nearly a third of Hope’s high school career was spent at home, in virtual classes that were hard to follow and easy to brush aside.” She need not worry about where this is going — those who spend a few years in such fellowships emerge with plenty of choices. 4, the Biden administration declared monkeypox a public health emergency, a move that can increase funding for health agencies responding to the outbreak and accelerate vaccine distribution. But that thought, which once compelled her, is beginning to leave her cold. Some days he played games with his brother and sister. "That's a little problem we are having at the moment is the busing, trying to get her on the bus to go," said parent Vanessa Avran.

What is the point of a life that is nothing more than an endless series of opportunities? As her thoughts flit among the prospects to which this next step is supposed to lead, she seems less excited by the promise of so many adventures than exhausted by the thought of so many decisions. She wonders aloud whether she might just go back home and work in a coffee shop. Algebra got little of his attention, but his teachers kept giving him good grades amid a school-wide push for leniency.  How the virus spreads the CDC . The thought is raised halfheartedly. It sounds more like a doubt about the step she is about to take than a choice she would seriously consider. It wasn't a mandatory thing,” said Hope, 18, of Milwaukee. It’s as though a life that rejects striving altogether is the only alternative she can imagine to a life of striving without purpose. People can also get monkeypox from infected animals.  "We've all had talks with our kids about what to expect and how to stay safe and what constitutes as an emergency and what doesn't.

Colleges today often operate as machines for putting ever-proliferating opportunities before already privileged people.” Across the country, there are countless others like him. Our educational system focuses obsessively on helping students take the next step. But it does not give them adequate assistance in thinking about the substance of the lives toward which they are advancing. They endured a jarring transition to online learning, the strains from teacher shortages and profound disruptions to their home lives.  Seale added that current monkeypox cases seem to be "most efficiently transmitted through sexual contact. Many institutions today have forgotten that liberal education itself was meant to teach the art of choosing, to train the young to use reason to decide which endeavors merit the investment of their lives. We spent many years teaching on a college campus, trying during office hours to help students struggling with their confusion. Colleges could see a surge in students unprepared for the demands of college-level work, education experts say.  Throughout the past several weeks, school leaders have been trying to reduce these fears.

Eventually, we sought to address this problem systematically, by designing a course intended to introduce the young to the art of choosing.) People line up at a monkeypox vaccination site on July 28, 2022, in Encino, Calif. The syllabus begins with Plato’s “Gorgias” — a messy dialogue that turns on an argument between a browbeating Socrates and the ruffian Callicles over whether the pursuit of virtue or of pleasure is the way to a good life. And that can hurt everything from a person's long-term earnings to the health of the country's workforce. The dialogue ends inconclusively; no one is satisfied. But with remarkable regularity, it awakens the kind of thinking that students need to better understand the choices that shape their lives. Wagner, the group’s executive director, saw startling numbers of students who were granted permission to spend half the school day working part-time jobs their senior year, often at fast food chains or groceries. "These might not be so obvious. Students’ first reaction to the “Gorgias” is incredulity, sometimes even horror.  In:.

It is the dialogue’s premise that alarms them: the idea that we can seriously argue about what constitutes the human good. “We have so many students who are going on to college academically malnourished,” Wagner said. Everything in their education has led them to believe that such arguments cannot bear fruit. "Airborne transmission occurs when small virus particles become suspended in the air and can stay there for periods of time," the CDC said . “But happiness is subjective!” someone will exclaim, expecting to win over the room.” Her group is boosting its tutoring budget and covering tuition for students in the program who take summer classes in math or science. We decline to affirm such assertions, which reliably astonishes the class. Our reticence is intended, in part, to dislodge our students from the idea that life’s purpose comes from some mysterious voice within. “The stakes are tremendously high,” she said."  As of June 9, long-range airborne transmission of monkeypox had not been reported, the CDC said .

Once students are freed from this idea, they can consider the possibility that people can reason together about the best way to live. Then we seek to create a conversation in our classroom that puts into practice this constructively countercultural way of thinking about happiness. For younger students, there’s still hope that America's schools can accelerate the pace of instruction and close learning gaps. We ask students to give reasons for their opinions on how best to live. Scientists are still researching whether the virus can be spread by asymptomatic people; whether monkeypox can be spread through semen, vaginal fluids, urine or feces; and just how often monkeypox is spread through respiratory secretions, the CDC . With a bit of practice, one starts to hear the speech patterns of Socrates entering their conversations. In anticipation of higher needs, colleges from New Jersey to California have been expanding “bridge” programs that provide summer classes, often for students from lower incomes or those who are the first in their families to attend college. They cease expecting their assertions to be showstoppers.

They start asking one another questions. In Hanceville, Alabama, Wallace State Community College this year tapped state money to create its first summer bridge program as it braces for an influx of underprepared students. as of July 12 were gay, bisexual or other men who have sex with men. They begin lining up premises, making inferences and drawing conclusions. These patterns of academic thinking soon penetrate their personal lives. The school hoped to bring up to 140 students to campus, but just 10 signed up. To be asked to give reasons for one’s personal decisions is to entertain the possibility that such reasons exist.S. Thomas Aquinas, another author on our syllabus, calls the reason that is the orienting point of all your other reasons your “final end. In Kentucky, which gave colleges $3.

” Those who discover that they have such final ends, and learn to assess them, see their way to the exit from the fun house of arbitrary decisions in which the young so often find themselves trapped. For the number of final ends is not infinite.” “We need these people to be our future workforce, and we need them to be successful,” said Amanda Ellis, a vice president of Kentucky’s Council on Postsecondary Education. Of patients who provided sexual activity information, 99% — or 624 people — "reported male to male sexual contact. Aquinas usefully suggests that the ultimate objects of human longing can be sorted into only eight enduring categories. If we want to understand where we’re headed, we should ask ourselves these questions: Am I interested in this opportunity because it leads to wealth? Or am I aiming at praise and admiration? Do I want enduring glory? Or power — to “make an impact”? Is my goal to maximize my pleasures? Do I seek health? Do I seek some “good of the soul,” such as knowledge or virtue? Or is my ultimate longing to come face-to-face with the divine? Most students find, to their surprise, that they can locate their desires on this old map. He felt the time away from school was worth it for the money, especially when nobody was paying attention in the online classes. This does not leave students feeling constrained, as they have often been led to fear. "If many people outside the MSM (men who have sex with men) community had monkeypox, more would have shown up in the statistics by now.

It leaves them feeling empowered, like wanderers suddenly recognizing the orienting features of a landscape. “I think isolating myself was a little bit of my coping mechanism,” he said. Like any good map, Aquinas’s reasoned analysis of the human goods can tell us something about where we’re going before we get there. We start down the path to wealth, for example, because it is a universal means to almost any end.’” The pandemic led many high schoolers to disengage at a time when they would usually be preparing for college or careers, said Rey Saldaña, president and CEO of Communities in Schools, a nonprofit group that places counselors in public schools in 26 states. (AP) Homophobic rhetoric. But wealth cannot be the final goal of life, for it gives satisfaction only when traded for something else. Admiration signals that people think we’re doing something well. In Charlotte, North Carolina, the allure of steady paychecks kept many students away from school even after in-person classes resumed, said Shakaka Perry, a reengagement coordinator for Communities in Schools.

But it is conferred by the often errant judgment of others and can lead you astray. Most students are grateful to discover this art of choosing. But when she thinks about whether they're ready for college, she has doubts: “It’s going to be an awakening. Learning to reason about happiness awakens an “indwelling power in the soul,” as Socrates puts it, which is as delightful as discovering that one’s voice can be made to sing. Why, then, do liberal arts institutions rarely teach it? In some cases, faculty members are incentivized to emphasize specialized research rather than thinking about the good life. He took a math class that covered the ground he missed in high school, and he's signed up to take calculus in the fall. In others, they share the conviction that reason is merely an extension of the quest for dominance, or the Rousseauean belief that sentiment is a better guide to happiness than the mind.

Most fundamentally, though, the reigning model of liberal education — opening doors without helping us think about what lies beyond them — prevails because it reprises a successful modern formula. He started studying at the library. Agnosticism about human purposes, combined with the endless increase of means and opportunities, has proved to be a powerful organizing principle for our political and economic life. It has helped create the remarkable peace, prosperity and liberty we have enjoyed for much of the modern age. He rediscovered what it's like to enjoy school. Modern liberty and modern anxiety are, however, two fruits of the same tree. As Alexis de Tocqueville noted long ago, people who have freedom and plenty but lack the art of choosing will be “restless in the midst of their prosperity. “After this, I definitely feel prepared for college,” he said.

” Anxiety, depression and suicide — all of which are woefully familiar on college campuses — are the unhappy companions of the mobility and freedom modern societies prize. This is why liberal democratic societies need universities to play the role of constructively countercultural institutions.” ——— The Associated Press education team receives support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. At their best, such societies are aware of their own incompleteness and support institutions that push against their innate tendency toward moral agnosticism, and the disorientation and restless paralysis that it brings in its wake. Colleges should self-consciously prioritize initiating students into a culture of rational reflection on how to live, and this intention should be evident in their mission statements, convocation addresses, faculty hiring and promotion, and curriculums. ——— Associated Press writer Carrie Antlfinger in Milwaukee contributed. Doing so will hold them accountable for performing their proper work: helping young people learn to give reasons for the choices that shape their lives and to reflect about the ends they pursue.

For that art of choosing is what their students most need — and what liberal education, rightly understood, was meant to impart.com/hub/back-to-school Related Topics. Benjamin Storey and Jenna Silber Storey are senior fellows at the American Enterprise Institute and Research Professors at Furman University. They are the authors of “ .