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Is University Really Helping Us to Become Our Better Selves, or Is It Just for the Grades?

I’ve came across a realization recently, which involves me asking myself – is the goal of a university to make us into a generally better and well-rounded person, or is it just career preparation? If it’s the latter, then I honestly kind of want to quit. I think the main goal of a university should be preparing us for leading an independent life in the future. Don’t get me wrong, studying is very important, but so is knowing how to pay taxes, or being a caring person. I actually thought about this issue today and what triggered that thought process were exams. And the fact of having recently failed one, makes me unreasonably sad.

Marks matter too much to me because society is indoctrinating us with unachievable ideals, like having to be constantly perfect or hard-working. To me, this closely resembles the class struggle and the idea that everyone should be on the same level, working the same amount of times and doing their jobs perfectly. Personally, I don’t care if I failed, even though I actually do. I care about the people around me and their opinions. In the end, they too won’t care and actually, nobody does. The thought of always having to be perfect, translating our self-worth into grades was created by the school system.

Also, exams are so damn hard. The recommended study time for all my three subjects combined is 120 hours per week, excluding class time. That leaves me with 48 hours. Honestly, the amount of work our university requires is overbearing and if the university is not helping me to find myself and to become a better person, I need to take the matter into my own hands. But how, when all I do is studying? Even when I don’t have anything to study, I feel very guilty that I’m not doing anything. I used to love reading and drawing, taking pictures and other stuff, but schoolwork is dominating my life right now and my creative mind is dying. Universities are increasingly trying to morph us into machines, creating the lost ideals of assembly lines and organized work as was present during socialism.

I feel like the university is doing anything to help develop our minds and at the same time, it requires us to come already developed. The system that is called university requires us to know what we want to do and how we want to do it, making us create study plans. What a little #ThrowbackThursday to communism.

Overall, I believe that what universities are trying to do these days is wrong. They were initially institutions to help people grow both mental wise and skill wise. Now they are transforming into something that will perfectly shape us for 9-to-5 workdays at a small corner office. I don’t want that, do you?

Lucia Holaskova is a first-year media information student at University of Amsterdam. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of The Amsterdammer.

  • Columnist (Fall 2018)
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