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Bentley on Bloomberg: The Case for College Education on a Campus
In her new book, PreparedU: How Innovative Colleges Drive Student Success, Bentley President Gloria Larson shares why the next generation of students deserve a college experience that allows them to grow as whole people, not just in the classroom. She explains how this is best achieved on a college campus, where students have the opportunity to find their passions, participate in co-curricular activities, take on leadership roles, find mentors and create meaningful relationships.
President Larson, along with guest experts, joined Bloomberg Radio’s Carol Massar and Cory Johnson to talk about how universities are approaching on-campus education to give students the most formative experience. Below are excerpts from the show:
Engaged on campus and in life
Here’s what I love about place-based education: even on a single campus, it’s a different version of college for each person, because the permutations and combinations of experience are infinite. If you can attend college on a campus, the totality of your personal experience is much richer than it would be if you only spent time in classrooms and then went home. Class time and study time are the intellectual center of the college experience, but there is so much more that can, and does, shape students for years to come. According to the Gallup Purdue Index which measures college outcomes, if employed graduates feel that their college prepared them well for life outside of it, the odds that they are engaged at work rise nearly three times. And the more engaged students are during their years on campus, chances are, the happier they will be later in life.
Diverse interactions are important
The placed based model enhances the opportunities for diverse interactions—conversations with peers who think differently, have different life experiences; come from different ethnic, cultural or religious backgrounds. This is when cognitive development occurs—by trying to make meaning out different perspectives—how can someone I like so much feel so differently about a particular issue? Last week in a conversation with our coaching staff, I encouraged them to ensure their athletes were having these diverse experiences—likening it to strength training—muscles don’t grow if they are not challenged and neither will the brain. I reminded them that they would not tell an athlete to stop working out the first time it was uncomfortable or hard. Nor would they abandon them when they needed support. The same is true for diverse interaction. And like working out—most of us need encouragement to do so!
Access to faculty and staff mentors can be life-changing
Living on a college campus allows students to form meaningful relationships with more than their professors and fellow classmates. I was introduced to Bentley’s Director of Sustainability Amanda King during my sophomore year when I joined the Green Society organization. Over the next three years, Amanda became my advocate and mentor. She supported me in attending various conferences related to sustainability and even encouraged me to apply for an internship at a sustainable investing firm in Boston while I was study abroad in France for the semester. Little did I know, her advocacy led me to the first step to the rest of my career.
Colleges must work to engage non-traditional students
We know students have a better college experience when they are engaged with their college campus. But what about the students who do not have the ability to live on campus due to financial or family obligations? It is up to colleges and universities to engage commuter and part-time students so they can have some of the same experiences as their resident students have. For example, some campuses do regional programing in the communities in which their commuter students are coming from. There are several schools in Chicago that find clusters of students who live in the same area and offer activities and volunteer opportunities in their own neighborhoods. Schools that draw more non-traditional students and adult learners need to come up with inventive ways to try and connect those students to campus.