College is often seen as a place of freedom, exploration, and discovery. Students are expected to make their own choices, pursue their interests, and find their paths. However, this freedom can also come with challenges, such as stress, anxiety, procrastination, and lack of direction.
In contrast, prison is often seen as a place of restriction, confinement, and punishment. Inmates are forced to follow strict rules, live in harsh conditions, and face severe consequences. However, this restriction can also come with benefits, such as structure, routine, and discipline.
In this article, the argument is – that college should be more like prison in some aspects and that this can help students achieve better outcomes and personal growth.
3 Similarities Between College and Prison
Here are the prime similarities between college and prison that you should keep in mind.
1. Embracing Structure and Routine
One of the main similarities between college and prison is that both are institutions that shape the lives of their members. However, while prison imposes a rigid structure and routine on its inmates, college leaves much of the responsibility to its students. This can create problems for students who struggle with time management, organization, and motivation.
For example, students may skip classes, miss deadlines, or cram for exams. These habits can affect their academic performance, mental health, and prospects.
Therefore, colleges should adopt some of the elements of prison that promote structure and routine. These measures could help students build discipline and responsibility, as well as reduce stress and uncertainty. Moreover, structure and routine can also foster a sense of purpose and direction, which can enhance students’ motivation and engagement.
2. Creating a Supportive Community
Another similarity between college and prison is that both are social environments that influence the behavior and identity of their members. However, while prison creates a strong sense of community and solidarity among its inmates, college can create a sense of isolation and alienation among its students.
For example, students may feel lonely, depressed, or overwhelmed by academic and social pressures. They may also face challenges such as discrimination, bullying, or harassment. These issues can affect their self-esteem, well-being, and belonging.
Therefore, colleges should adopt some of the elements of prison that create a supportive community. For instance, the college could encourage unity and camaraderie among its students, such as by creating smaller cohorts, organizing group projects, and facilitating peer interactions. These activities could help students form meaningful relationships, share experiences, and support each other.
3. Focusing on Personal Growth and Development
A third similarity between college and prison is that both are opportunities for personal growth and development. However, while prison aims to rehabilitate and reform its inmates, college often focuses on educating and training its students. This can create a gap between the academic and personal aspects of college life.
For example, students may neglect their physical, emotional, or spiritual needs, or they may engage in unhealthy or risky behaviors. They may also lack self-awareness, self-regulation, or self-improvement.
Therefore, colleges should adopt some of the elements of prison that focus on personal growth and development. For instance, a college could promote self-reflection and introspection among its students, such as by offering courses on ethics, philosophy, or psychology, or by providing counseling and coaching services. These resources could help students understand themselves, their values, and their goals, as well as cope with their challenges and emotions.
Moreover, colleges could also address behavioral issues promptly and effectively, such as by implementing clear rules, consequences, and incentives, or by providing alternative options and interventions. These strategies could help students correct their mistakes, learn from their experiences, and change their attitudes and actions.
4. Redefining Success and Encouraging Holistic Evaluation
A final similarity between college and prison is that both are stages of transition and transformation. However, while prison prepares its inmates for reintegration into society, college often prepares its students for entry into the workforce. This can create a narrow and limited view of success and evaluation.
For example, students may focus on grades and academic achievements, or they may pursue careers that are lucrative but not fulfilling. They may also ignore the broader and deeper impacts of their education, such as on their personal, social, or environmental spheres.
For instance, college could move beyond grades and academic achievements and instead emphasize skill development and personal responsibility. These outcomes could help students become more competent, confident, and adaptable, as well as more accountable, ethical, and civic-minded.
Furthermore, colleges could also evaluate students based on multiple and diverse criteria, such as their progress, effort, or contribution, or their impact, satisfaction, or happiness. These measures could help students appreciate the value and meaning of their education, as well as recognize and celebrate their achievements and potential.
For instance, colleges could enforce a mandatory attendance policy, a fixed schedule of classes and activities, and a regular evaluation system. Furthermore, colleges could also implement mentoring programs that pair students with older or more experienced peers, faculty, or alumni. These programs could help students receive guidance, feedback, and advice, as well as develop personal and professional skills. Also, colleges should adopt some of the elements of prison that redefine success and encourage holistic evaluation.