24 July 2013
Stay put or boldy go?
Similarly, a current university student spoke at the ceremony about the prospects for a medical school in the region, and how this would allow students to stay here.
But is this necessarily a good thing?
I grew up in small towns. There was no way I was going to be able to go to university in my home town, so I had to live on my own as soon as I got out of high school. I learned a lot that way.
As I continued my career, I moved first across country, to Québec. Being an anglophone in Montréal was another tremendous learning experience.
Finally, I got to live overseas, in Australia. Again, that experience was incredibly rich and rewarding in ways too numerous to describe here.
Now, I often tell people, “I think everyone should live outside their own country for a least a year. Not just visit in a hotel, but rent an apartment, and go through the cycle of the seasons.” Travel really does broaden the mind. I personally think that this has made me a better instructor.
In this area, I’ve seen a lot of people stop their studies because they won’t move. On the one hand, I get this. because moving sucks. Each and every time. On the other hand... I worry about people missing out on the experiences. A lot of students, I think, would benefit from being independent, and having to deal with a different culture.
Plus, I am not convinced that every career opportunity should be available in everyone’s backyard.
When there is opportunity for advanced degrees locally, I worry about the potential for regional universities becoming silos: recruiting their own students for graduate degrees. No students leaving, and just as importantly, few students moving in, bringing their own ideas and experiences to enrich the department.
Ultimately, does the idea of getting people to stay in a state or region mean that the ideal university department is composed of people who were students in that same department? I think that would be an impoverished intellectual environment. I often tell undergraduates, “Think hard about going to another university for grad school. Because after you’ve hung out in a department for a bachelor’s you’ve probably learned a lot of what we have to teach you.” Other departments will have other strengths and things for students to learn.
While I don’t like how many people drop out of the pipeline because they don’t want to move, I appreciate the richness that comes from throwing together people who were willing to move.
Camp photo by johnhope14 on Flickr; trailer photo by dwstucke on Flickr; both used under a Creative Commons license.