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On having a dialogue

Anne Dalke's picture

Welcome!  This forum is a space for Parkway West  High School students and Bryn Mawr College students to create dialogue and explore ideas about education, social class, opportunity, and our futures.

Please use it to reflect on our shared visit:

  • what ideas or issues stood out to you from our conversation?
  • What surprised you and piqued your curiosity? 
  • What would you like to explore further? 


gladys night 's picture

I think that standardized

I think that standardized testing , is a poor way or showing whether students are learning what's needed or not. I believe so because many students react to tests differently . This Is very unfair to many students some can take test and be okay with it but others , may fail . This does not mean that the person is dumb it just means they do not test well.

snatarajan's picture

I agree with your point here

I agree with your point here about standardized testing because I also took the standpoint that these sort of tests cannot measure intelligence. The thing about these tests is... they are considered "standardized" because in theory, they should be able to go across the field and measure a certain factor about all people, regardless of everything-social class, background, type of school. In this case, these test makers believe they are testing the intelligence of all students fairly, but they do not take many factors into account.


Many schools, across the United States, and even within one state, are very different from each other, in what they teach and what their students learn. Because of this huge gap in what students are learning in different school districts, there really is no way that any "standardized" test can take into account these differences and test all students evenly on anything. Especially not intelligence.


I have a question for you... what does intelligence really mean for you?

James Brown's picture

I'm confused as well

I also find it weird that college students would say that you don't need college to be successful yet they themselves are in college.This makes me wonder if they thing college is not needed why are they in college?

Sophia's picture

I found that really

I found that really interesting too. I think that it may be easier for us to say college isn't for everyone now that we're here and have college to act almost as a safety-net for us. Many of us don't know yet what we want to do, so continuing our studies can be a way of giving us more time to figure things out. Others want to know a lot more about a very specific topic – which they can't study in such detail in High School. Because these students are focusing on college not for the degree they'll get by the end of it, but for the purpose of simply gaining more information, it may make sense for them to say college isn't always necessary for success, but it's necessary for them in particular.
Many of us are also worried about what use our majors (once decided!) will be in terms of getting a job. Even with a bachelor's degree, a major in sociology or English, for example, can be a little difficult to apply to a steady job after graduation. I do think it's incredibly difficult to get a job without a bachelor's degree (unless you decide to go into something specialized like plumbing or public service – i.e. firefighting), but I also think that even with a bachelor's degree, it's difficult to determine a person's success.

James Durham's picture

What really confused me

What really confused me during the class discussion was that why the Bryn Mawr college students say that you don't need to go to college in order to be successful. Well I don't think that made any sense because if you don't need to go to college to be successful why are in college and studying to get a degree. I also disagree with this statement because now in the U.S if you don't have a college degree you cannot get a better job. For example if you want to be a cop or any other criminal justices you can't just finish high school and go apply to be a cop.

melal's picture

Hi James, I see the same

Hi James,

I see the same point as well. I believe that not only Bryn Mawr students, actually a lot of college students think that people can be successful without college degrees. When people explain why they think so, the most common statement is “Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are college dropouts but they are very successful.” I personally think that this is a very ideal-based thought. Steve Jobs is undeniably an extraordinary man by any standard. He has left his mark on no less than five industries and created a new age, making people all over the world be crazy about Apple. We consider the problem under a very general situation, but how many bill gates and Steve Jobbs do we have? For most common people who want to be successful, a college degree is necessary. It is true that a lot of college graduates cannot find jobs, but it isn’t a fault of college. Maybe they are not enough competitive employees, or maybe just because of the bad time. I still believe most people can gain something valuable from the four years of college, developing some great qualities that can make them become successful. 

A.C.'s picture

I notice that people said

I notice that people said that there personal life could detect there way of performinng in school and that the books affects can have something to deal witg on there lifes in a personal life. I am confuse on that.

Utitofon's picture

Experience versus books

I think that personal experience and the knowledge gained from books work well together and can even complement each other. For e.g in Health Science, we were taught about defense mechanisms e.g denial, i.e when an individual refuses to accept the reality of an unpleasant event or situation as a way of dealing with with it, you know coping with the shock. Experiencing or observing that personally can help you comprehend that topic better. For e.g in high school, some of my classmates who knew they had performed poorly on a test on receiving the script, simply tore it up without looking at the grade, while others just folded the paper and used it to play football like there was nothing on it.  Now if you can relate that experience to the initial topic of defense mechanisms, it breaks down the compound phrase, and makes  a permanent impression as that memory is saved not as a bunch of 7 sentences(definition) but as a picture image which sticks forever. You can explain it in your own words in an exam instead of struggling to cram it. What do you think?

KB's picture

Yesterday .as we were having

Yesterday .as we were having a talk i noticed that alot of the brynmawr students said they don't need college to be succesful yet they are IN COLLEGE .that kind of confused me if they don't need it and they will be succesful either way why are they in college ?

LJ's picture

Does College Equal Success?

KB, you make a really good point. For us to say college is not necessary to be successful is filled with bias because we are in college. I know that I'm in college because my definition of success and the definition my parents have of success requires me to go to college. Furthermore, if I had a different definition of success perhaps I would not have gone to college. Without a doubt I love learning however sociaty has influenced me because if all I wanted to do was learn I would take classes with no intentiion of getting a diploma. On a different note, I would be wary of saying that people like Bill Gates, who is a college drop out, is an example of the ability to be successful without college. An idea explicitly stated in Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers is the fact that Bill Gates is not a typical example. His parents were very well off and because of that he was able to get his ten thousand hours of experience before he entered college. Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to get ten thousand hours in a subject we are passionate about before we go to college. So, I would be careful of saying that the monetary "success"(which is still not everyones defintiion of success) of Bill Gates is easily accomplished without a college degree.

Zora Neale Hurston's picture

I agree 100% , if you believe

I agree 100% , if you believe you will be successful with or without attending college why through a bunch of money out the window? Knowing your going to make it either way you can save lots of money by not attending.

Diane Nash's picture

I also agree with this

I also agree with this statement, they totally confused me with that. If they feel as though we don't need college, why exactly are you in college?

S. Yaeger's picture

KB, I'm so excited to see you

KB, I'm so excited to see you posting!  I can't speak for my classmates, but I personally chose to disagree with the idea that college is necessary for success for a few reasons, despite the fact that I think that college will help me to be successful in the future.  The first reason I dasagreed is that the statement made it sound like we were being asked if college is necessary for all people who wish to be successful, and I am not quite sure that it is.  Secondly, what counts for success varies between people.  For instance, I've known people who were very happy and felt very successful while making very little money and people who were miserable and felt like failures despite being very rich, so I try not to think of success as being the same as earning a lot of money.  Finally, I really don't think that my college education will lead me to financial success (so in that way I might not need it), but I do think that it will help me to have a future career that is interesting and fulfilling and that is what success looks like for me.  In short, I disagreed with the idea that college is necessary for success, but not with the idea that college is valuable.  My question for you and your classmates is: What would you consider successful?

A.C.'s picture

I feel the same way like if

I feel the same way like if you know that you can be successful with out a college degree then why are you in college. I think it would all depend on wat you life style and job you want for yourself.

j.nahig's picture

Considering the majority of

Considering the majority of the Bryn Mawr students' responses to the question about college, I completely understand why you're asking "why are you in college." Considering that we are already students in college, I think it is easier for us to say that college isn't necessary, because we have (to a certain extent) a choice as to whether or not we are in college. Clearly we (Bryn Mawr students) have the means in some way or another to attend college, and so we have the luxury of being able to consider a life without college without having to face that as an actual reality.

Most unfortuntely, with the current disappearance of the middle class, the new phrase "the bachelors is the new high school diploma" is becoming more and more true. Despite the fact that many people with college degrees are out of work at the moment, I think that now is the most important moment in the United States' history for citizens to go to college.

Many manufacturing/manual labor jobs have been outsourced overseas, and so relying on earning a living by working a job requiring skill but not necessarily a higher education, is a much riskier business now than it was when our parents were our age. As other people said, for me, college is a safety net to. This isn't, of course, to say that poverty is inevitable for people who don't go to college. That's not true at all. It's only to say that now, more than ever, I believe college education is important. As the middle class begins to disappear, how do we make education affordable? That, I think, is the most crucial, and also the most difficult question to answer.