To the Editor:
Now more than ever is there a call for low-cost methods to increase student engagement. With rising tuition now an unwavering trend and unemployment common amongst college graduates, there is a need to almost make it worthwhile for students to enroll into institutions of higher education. For years, education has not solely been about the academics, but instead the holistic experience. “The Power of the Personal” (The Chronicle, September 15) discusses the influential effects that students’ fostering of personal connections not just with their peers but also with their professors can have on their overall education. While some academics argue that creating relationships with students distracts from the curriculum and education, the article argues that fostering relationships with peers and teachers actually enhances a student’s ability to learn. I could not agree more with this argument. How can students be expected to invest in their university if the faculty is unwilling to invest in them? To argue that academia is more important than fostering personal connections with the students completely disregards the fact that plenty of learning also occurs outside of the classroom. By creating intimate relationships with their peers, students have the opportunity to take the concepts and lessons acquired in class and apply them to real life situations. Furthermore, education in itself is a personal experience. As students we invest our time and energy to acquire knowledge from specialists to better not only ourselves, but also the society in which we live.
As the article claims, fostering personal relationships amongst peers and teachers is a cost-effective and reliable way to improve both student engagement and retention. I believe that once we, as a society, stop trying to impersonalize every experience and accept the intrinsic intimate nature of education and learning, we can improve this issue of student engagement in college.
Randolph Carlos Rivo
The writer is a graduate student at the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California.