As a college student, my first reaction to the video Declining by Degrees was: This is something that I can relate to. However, while watching the video, I soon realized that I have nothing in common with the young adults and their stories portrayed in the film. Although we are technically in the same boat, small private colleges differ from largely populated universities, where class sizes can reach up to 200 students per professor. I would have difficulty in this type of environment, mainly because I get anxious when surrounded by a big group of people; even our small class size of about 18 sometimes makes me nervous. My high school friend, who attends UNC Chapel Hill, could relate more easily to this movie than I. She has a class that contains a little more than 200 students.
With larger class sizes comes less one-on-one attention. Relationships with professors are less personal, which makes it easier for students to feel like a number in a classroom. I recall a political science professor in the video complaining how she never gets visitors from class. Honestly, I wouldn’t visit the professor either–she probably wouldn’t even remember my name. I prefer smaller classes where I have the opportunity to bond with my professors, and even my classmates (which, in a class of 200, it is impossible to learn who your classmates are).
It is easy to see why 1 in 4 students drop out of public universities before their sophomore year. When you don’t know who your classmates are, and the professor doesn’t know who you are, it is simple to get lost in the crowd. It is impossible not to feel like an outcast, like you don’t belong. It is welcoming to slip into the shadows; however, it is the shadows that lead to identity crises, which can either benefit or damage a student’s education.