Reflection on Tertiary Education

Having finished my tertiary education more than two years ago now, it’s not a topic I tend to reflect on very regularly these days. However, as I’ve been getting to know some online friends, and my husband recently handed in his PhD thesis, it’s a topic I have been thinking about a little recently.

I went to university straight out of high school. I only ever really wanted to go to Murdoch University, and never even considered applying to other universities high up on my preferences. At first my decision had mostly been based on the fact it was the closest university to where I lived at the time, but the longer I attended, the more I knew it was the perfect place for me. I never even considered applying anywhere overseas, let alone to a “prestigious” university such as Oxford/Cambridge/Harvard/Stanford/Yale, and not just for the typical reasons like cost and not thinking I’m smart enough.

I personally hate hype, and don’t believe the education would be any better at one of these universities than it could be somewhere else. Hundreds of years open does not mean they’re best in the world. I personally think the expense is just in the name, and all you’re really paying for is bragging rights. Or perhaps you’re funding all the the post-doctoral researchers.

I’m not really sure where or when the misconception that university equals intelligence, and if you don’t attend university you’re not intelligent was formed as a general consensus. However, I have met both people who attended and didn’t attend university that could be considered intelligent or unintelligent. And I think that could be said about every university in the world. A lot of those bragging rights universities are more about who can afford to go than who is smart enough to go, if you ask me. Not that I’ve met anyone who has ever studied at any of them. What I hate most about prestigious universities is how the name of those schools can determine whether or not you can work or take on further study at certain locations.

In comparison, I loved Murdoch University, and I wouldn’t have wanted to study anywhere else. I got a good education there, and the teachers were brilliant. Most of the work was set out in a way that allowed me to learn things best. I often feel like it’s one of the least known universities in Australia, though it does have a good amount of international students, which I think is good. We have campuses in a couple Asian countries too (eg Singapore). We’re meant to be one of the leading universities in the world for researching Interactive TV, which is awesome! Even if we don’t have any interactive TV in Australia. It amuses me that colleges in the US come to Murdoch for information about our research. I am very proud of Murdoch, and its several awards in student satisfaction (beating many more well known universities throughout Australia). It’s not particularly competitive to get in, either, which I think is a good thing, even if others might consider it a downside – makes it less “prestigious,” I guess.

There was a time where I did consider university trained people as much smarter than your average bear. I think that came from the fact it was pretty much expected of me to go to university to further my education – and it had to be in something science-related so I was seen to be using my brains and getting into a field where I could get a good degree. The main thing that changed that idea for me was when my mum accepted that my brother wasn’t going to go to university straight out of high school, if at all. Knowing the intelligence of my brother, I realised I could accept that too.

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