Colleges are constantly changing. From a high-level standpoint, curriculum changes on a near constant basis, with new research and new knowledge dictating what is taught to students. This is especially true in the STEM-related topics and classes, for which new discoveries happen on a nearly daily basis.
However, on a more basic level, colleges change simply because of time. Buildings get older, as do the faculty, all of which often goes unnoticed since new students end up cycling through college every year. With that in mind, it is imperative that colleges make it a point to invest in their students on a regular basis.
There are two key points to this, the first being the actual facilities. Just because a building has been standing for centuries in some cases, it doesn’t mean that it cannot be renovated and improved. Even from an aesthetic standpoint, improving buildings and classrooms can have a profound impact on students. Just by walking into and learning in a newly renovated building, students spirits are higher and they are typically much more engaged and ready and willing to learn.
This sort of impact can also be felt outside of the classrooms and buildings of learning as well. Think about how a student would react coming back from class to an old run-down dormitory, or going to dinner after a long day of studying to an outdated cafeteria. All of these things affect students’ moods and ultimately affect how they respond to learning in general. Keeping these facilities renovated, fresh and up to date will help students learn.
The second key point is having the actual technologies updated as well. I cannot believe how many college classrooms still use an overhead projector to project their slides rather than the more modern projectors that actually project in color. Not only does it make the school look tacky and outdated, but it also makes students less engaged as well. No one wants to feel like an old dinosaur learning with an overhead projector, so using one in the classroom can often leave students tuning out (either consciously or subconsciously), which results in less effective teaching.
On a less superficial level, things such as desktop computers in the library or other student work areas should also be fully up to date. Technology improves on a near constant basis, so even if a computer is only a few years old, it can have significant performance deficiencies that lead students to not want to use them outright, all of which again leads to less effective studying and learning. And when it comes to actual lab equipment that is totally necessary for learning, it is important to have that equipment up to date most of all.
Most colleges admittedly do take steps to invest in their campus and keep things up to date. But unfortunately the extent to which they do so is often inadequate and only focuses on making bare minimum investments to keep things afloat, rather than making more significant investments to make significant improvements to the facilities and technologies as a whole. If colleges want to create an effective learning environment for their students, they should take the latter approach, rather than the former.