What’s the Point of College? Part 1 of 3
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Education Consultant Matthew O’Connor leads Fundamentals of College Preparation Workshop for Migrant Education

At the end of July, Migrant Education teamed up with college admissions professionals at ThinkTank Learning to help students gain knowledge and resources for a successful path to college. Our What’s the Point of College series begins with lead instructor Matthew O’ Connor formulating his answer to an age-old question.

What’s the Point of College?

That is a great question, and is a question that was posed to me several times by students during my time leading our week long Migrant Education Workshop.  While I’ve always thought about this question, I don’t think I’ve ever taken the time to fully think about the answer to this question.

My entire career, I’ve emphasized the importance of going to college.  I’ve always driven home the idea that attending an institution of higher education plays a crucial role in gaining respect in the professional sector.  In society, the aforementioned concept is an inherent, undeniable truth.  Yet, even so, is that all there is to going to college?  Is that what college is all about?

This week, I better understood why this isn’t the entire story.  This week, I came to understand what attending college is REALLY about.

The Migrant Education Workshop is a ThinkTank Learning program that is conducted in conjunction with the Santa Clara County Office of Education Migrant Education Program.  Veronica Ramos, Amanda Holst, Patricia Solano, Julia Galvez, Carlos Acosta and David Phillips all worked tirelessly to make this workshop happen, and each should be commended for laying the foundation for this incredible week.  The five day workshop covered the ALL fundamental aspects of applying to college, including understanding the importance of grades and course planning; successful study habits and time management; volunteering, clubs and extracurricular activities; test planning and preparation; summer planning; and signature projects.

Now, I’m not going to lie to you.  The concept of this workshop was a bit scary.  I was stepping into new environment, teaching a wildly important topic to 8-12 grade students who come from a vastly different background then me.  None of them had really met each other before, and they’d DEFINITELY never met me.  When I first stepped in the room, my class of 25 students was completely silent.  Like, “you can hear a pin drop” kind of silent.

So, what do you do when people don’t know each other?  You make sure they get to know each other.

We spent the first hour of each of our five hour days together playing name games, creating skits and having fun with each other.  Was this a lot of time not to be learning critical aspects of the college application process?  Absolutely.  Yet, as an instructor, if you don’t have the trust of every student you’re working with, the information that you provide will be easily forgotten.  If YOU can’t be trusted, how can your teaching be trusted?

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