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Could Academic Culture Be Holding You Back After Graduation?

By Ramsha Afridi··  5 min read
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University education is an important and a life-changing experience for most young people. It’s a fundamental aspect of many people’s lives as it offers a roadmap to the future.

However, not many highlight the fact that academic culture could in fact be holding us back in everyday life. Yes, you read that right, academic culture could be setting you back in the real world.  

You’re probably wondering how that could be? Going to college is supposed to prepare us for personal and professional development; it’s a place where many of us find ourselves and develop ourselves as people. So how could college ever hold us back?

Well, there’s a wider problem that our culture often ignores: Without realizing it, many of us can end up seeing the real world through the eyes of a student after spending years in an academic institution. 

Academic Culture Doesn’t Hold Much Value in the Real World

Academia is heavily focused on a learning style that’s structured in an environment that’s established in advance. This means that many students spend years memorizing answers to pass the examinations but not actually learning how to apply this knowledge in the real world.

Ultimately, it could be argued that most academic learning is difficult to integrate into your real life. For so many of us, studying at university is often just being spoon-fed various topics and subjects that have been assigned by our professors. This can be problematic, as university education for many students is often predefined, structured, and leaves little to no room for free and liberated thinking. 

These are all aspects that don’t hold value in the real world as everyday life is, in fact, immensely chaotic and complex. The real world is not only flexible, but also the options of how to learn and accumulate knowledge are limitless; academic culture, on the other hand, can be filled with limitations due to its controlled setting.

University education is predefined and structured, unlike the chaotic and complex real world.

There are stark differences between the two worlds, and a young person entering the working world after graduating can often be left feeling confused as to how to navigate it. Especially as so many are told that academic education equips them to become prepared for their working life after completing higher education – which often is not the case. 

This means you can pass numerous tests in colleges that can determine your success in the academic world, but those same measures won’t necessarily determine your success in the real world. A survey from CBI, alongside Accenture and Hays, in the United Kingdom revealed that up to half of young people aged between 17 and 23 feel under-prepared for the world of work after graduating from university. CBI further argued that students should dive into the working world by gaining internships, work experience, or apprenticeships in order to help them bridge the gap between academia and the real world.

The Importance of Shedding the Academic Worldview

As the world becomes more complicated, complex, and tangled, the simplicity and straightforwardness of academic culture, which so many of us experience, is simply not enough to be able to thrive in the working world.

Universities remain places of immense cultural and social factors, all of which can influence and shape our way of thinking in the long term. Many colleges are being infected with fierce group think and political correctness. In fact, a study revealed that some of the leading universities in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada often discriminated against students who did not agree with their leftist politics.

The research was titled “Academic Freedom in Crisis: Punishment, Political Discrimination, and Self-Censorship, published by the Center for the Study of Partisanship and Ideology.” It was conducted by Dr. Eric Kauffman, who is a professor at Birkbeck University of London. He gathered data from an estimated 3,000 graduate students, professors, and doctorates from numerous universities in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, where it was revealed that those with conservative views were discriminated against by academics. 

The ideas institutionalized in academia can materialize off campus – for better or for worse.

Culture wars on college campuses are leading to a lack of diversity of opinion, which means many young people can even be brainwashed into ideological compliance – all of which could stop them from becoming independent-minded and successful individuals in the working world. You only need to look at everyday stories of young students and reports from disillusioned academics which reveal that universities are increasingly becoming intolerant of ideological diversity and even free thought. 

Therefore, it’s more important than ever to shed the academic worldview soon upon graduating — we all know that ideas institutionalized in academia can materialize outside this setting.

Closing Thoughts

We may not be aware that we need to be deprogrammed from the student universe which could unconsciously follow us in life. Especially as most of us spend a significant portion of our life in an academic culture where we are told what to do rather than how to think for ourselves. 

The truth is that universities are often behaving like extensions of large commercialized corporations which only serve to churn out perfect employees, rather than independent-minded people well prepared for the working world. All this points to the fact that we need a cultural shift toward caring for education that serves the real world. That's how we challenge and expand our critical thinking. 

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