When we think about the UC system
When we think about the UC system, UC Santa Cruz stands out as unique. UCSC not only hosts many majors and specialties but is also a hub for research and economic mobility. The school's website boasts about ranking third in the world for research citations and impact and celebrates its diversity, affordability and the beautiful natural scenery surrounding UCSC. However, these serve merely as a facade hiding something that is not as pretty as it seems. Students at UCSC face many issues,When we think about the UC system, UC Santa Cruz stands out as unique. UCSC not only hosts many majors and specialties but is also a hub for research and economic mobility. The school's website boasts about ranking third in the world for research citations and impact and celebrates its diversity, affordability and the beautiful natural scenery surrounding UCSC. However, these serve merely as a facade hiding something that is not as pretty as it seems. Students at UCSC face many issues, including failing of academic standing, a reputation for high drug uses and increasing rate of dropout in the past few years.
Many critics such as Graff point out that the problems universities like UCSC are facing can be explained by professors who treat students as mere uneducated masses when students do not know how to play the game of college. In Graff’s words, if only professors are more keen to simplify and make their teaching more interesting and understandable by everyone, whilst making sure that the students understand the game plan and play it well, the problem would be solved (25-40). However, the argument that Graff is making misses many of the hardships that students today have to deal with. Today, students are not just expected to go to class and study but also have other responsibilities such as work so as to pay tuition. Graff forgets how students nowadays are expected to be fully grown adults who take more responsibility than just attending classes and trying to comprehend them.
Graff argues in Clueless in Academe about the flaws in how colleges, many like UCSC, might have failed their students. He believes that the fault lies on the academic side, with professors being arrogant and out of touch with students, while students don’t understand the rules of the game. Graff argues that professors repeatedly use jargon and specific terms for things that could be simplified for everyday use, for fear of sounding too uneducated to other professors (2-6). Leading to why Graff believes that universities fail their students: the cluelessness among the students. This is how Graff understands the academic side of UCSC and why the students are doing badly in class. After all, in Graff’s idea, everything that is important in college is what happens in an hour and thirty minutes lecture. Graff sees how students understand their professor is crucial because understanding would help them pass the finals written by the same professor. It’s logical for Graff to believe that if professors make it easier for students to understand the material, more students will pass the class and graduate from college.
For the students, Graff points out if students want to do better they need to know that “summarizing and making arguments is the name of the game in academia” (Graff, 3). Students, in Graff’s mind, need to understand the system and work it to do better in college. Graff assumes that all students are ready to learn, ignoring the facts that students also have other stresses that can result in students’ bad performance in class. However, Graff’s narrow focus on purely students’ success in class and simplifying a professor’s teaching reveals the misunderstanding of what college students face regularly in college. A Public Agenda study on students’ behaviors found that many students are dropping out of college due to financial problems. Graff forgets how being a student today means that you have to be able to afford it as well. Tuition over the past few years also has increased dramatically with the national average almost doubled since 2000. At the same time, students receive less financial aid as state governments cut funding for higher education institutions.
As a result, students are more reliant on working between classes and taking out loans to pay for their tuition. Stresses like these make students less focus on their academic to prioritize working and paying their debts as a result. Graff overlooks how tuition can also impact students’ academic performance as well. Graff’s idea of doing better for everyone is by making students do better in the classroom but many students are doing exceptionally well in class and still falling behind. In many circumstances, students at UCSC are expected to work long gruesome hours in order to help pay their tuition. This responsibility of working also makes students’ academic fail and cause dropout in many cases. At UCSC, students are expected to take 15 units to be considered for financial assistance, although that financial assistance barely covers anything. Furthermore, each unit is considered three hours of work and study per week, which means that 15 units are 45 hours.
Students whose financial aid can’t cover their expenses have to work more than 30 hours a week or risk being unable to enroll for future classes. Work and study responsibilities add up to 75 hours, that left students with 9 hours per day to sleep, shower, walk to class. The lack of sleep and other basic needs make a lot of students burn out and in an extreme case: a UCSC student took their life halfway through the school year. Academics is nothing compared to the effects of being in a rush and stressed 24/7. It is also a constant responsibility that students struggle with, and many often fail to balance both in their time at UCSC.To answer how to make UCSC better for students, we can look to reduce the amount of responsibility that a student might have to face. Graff was right to point that student’s performance equals the chance of succeeding in college. However, he clearly dismissed the point that there is responsibility out of class. To do better, UCSC has to listen and adapt to the new students that are going to school. Easing responsibility from students is a good way to start. UCSC is taking some effort with programs like Basic Needs, Slug Support and CAPs.
However, these resources are not up to standards, with many understaffed and underfunded or completely neglected by the Administration of UCSC. The college needs to commit to funding these resources that help relieve some of the students’ responsibility for secure housing, stable food supply. With these resources operating at their most efficient and desired capacity, UCSC can hope to make students’ performance and life better. When the school can deliver on these points, is when it can truly fix the ugly reality that the students face and make it a better place to attain a degree and retain its status within California and the University of California system.
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