Listening Topic: Education – Personal experiences of college

A. Listen to four college graduates talk about their experiences in college. As you listen, match the beginnings and endings of the sentences.

1   Tom

2   Tracy

3   Ed

4   Alicia

a   fulfilled a personal dream.

b   went to an unusual school.

c   fulfilled a family’s dream.

d   discovered an interest that later became a career.

B. Listen to the speakers again, and choose the correct answer for each item. Listen again if necessary.

Speaker 1: Tom

 Tom went to a community college first because ____.

      a   it was close to home

      b   his grades weren’t very good

      c   he wasn’t interested in a four-year college

 Tom changed his approach to studying after ____.

      a   he found something that interested him

      b   he transferred to a different college

      c   he started his own business

Speaker 2: Tracy

3   Which statement is true about Tracy?

      a   She had a lot of money to pay for school.

      b   She’s always wanted to get a master’s degree.

      c   She didn’t know if she’d be accepted to Harvard and didn’t know how she’d pay for it.

4   Tracy is ____.

      a   certain that she has a better job because of her education

      b   not sure whether it makes a difference that she went to Harvard

      c   disappointed that she didn’t go to Harvard for her undergraduate degree, too

Speaker 3: Ed

 Which statement is not true about Ed’s school?

      a   Students were expected to participate a lot.

      b   There were no grades.

      c   Students gave grades to other students.

6   At Ed’s school, some students ____.

      a   wanted to get a traditional grade such as an A or a B

      b   didn’t participate in discussions

      c   disagreed with the written evaluations

Speaker 4: Alicia

 For Alicia, ____.

      a   school has always been difficult

      b   high school and college were both easy

      c   college was more difficult than high school

 Writing papers was difficult for Alicia because ____.

      a   she didn’t like writing

      b   she had to write them in English, which isn’t her first language

      c   she didn’t have a computer



1 d   2 a   3 b   4 c


1 b   2 a   3 c   4 b   5 c   6 a   7 c   8 b


Speaker 1: Tom

I guess you could say I was a late developer! My grades weren’t good enough for a four-year college. I didn’t work hard enough in high school. So I wound up at the community college, and I didn’t study very hard there either, at least not for the first year. I just really wasn’t interested in anything. But in my second year there … one day I had to do a project on the computer. Of course, computers were quite new in those days. And I got interested, really interested. It was fun messing around on computers, trying to figure things out.

Eventually I changed my major to computer science. It was a new field but it was growing fast and it was obvious there was a huge future there. I started working … transferred to a four-year college and graduated with honors. After I graduated, my friend got me a job at a software company. I worked there for a few years and, eventually, I went out on my own. Now I have a very stable business with more than twenty employees and I guess you could say I’m quite successful. So I don’t think it makes a bit of difference which school you go to or how much you pay for it. It’s what you do with it that’s important.

Speaker 2: Tracy

I got an undergraduate degree from the local state university. My family didn’t have a lot of money so that was only option at that point, really. My dream had always been to go to an Ivy League school, like Harvard or Yale, but we just couldn’t afford it. I had to work part-time while I was studying, and then I worked two jobs during the summer to pay for school. I was pretty happy at the state school … I got good grades, and I felt like I was getting a good education. But I still wished I could have gone to a school like Harvard.

Then, one of my professors suggested that I think about going to grad school and getting a master’s degree. I’d never really considered it before, but I decided to apply anyway. My professor suggested different schools to apply to, including Harvard, and I thought, well, it’s worth a try. I didn’t know if I’d get accepted, and I really didn’t know how I’d pay for it, but I decided to try anyway. Well, I was accepted and it was very hard … hard in terms of studying, and hard financially. But, I did it. I honestly don’t know if doing my master’s at an Ivy League school made all that much difference in the end … in what I learned or the jobs I’ve gotten, but I’m glad I did it.

Speaker 3: Ed

I went to a very small state college, but it was kind of unusual. There was a big emphasis on hands-on learning, group work, seminars, debates, discussions. It was really active and you were expected to participate. I don’t think it would be for everyone, but I really loved it. Like, you couldn’t just sit there and take notes. You were expected to engage with the information and ask questions. I was always getting in trouble in regular school for asking questions, so I love it.

You might think it was easier, but I think they asked more of you than they do in a regular university. You had to write your own academic plan at the beginning of every year and discuss it with the teachers, and this is the part that really is different: you wrote your own self-evaluation at the end of every semester. They didn’t give grades. They gave narrative evaluations, like each professor wrote a paragraph about your strengths and weaknesses. You know, it’s amazing. Those evaluations meant a lot more to us than grades would have, and they were a lot more informative, actually. Some people didn’t like them at all. They wanted an A or a B or whatever … But that wasn’t the way they did it.

Speaker 4: Alicia

My parents and my grandparents immigrated to this country from Mexico when I was twelve, and they never had much education. But that was the big thing they wanted for me – the most important thing was education. They were pushing me all through school, always checking my homework, putting me in summer school and things like that. They were so happy when I got accepted to college. But college was tough for me. High school was pretty easy, but you’re expected to be a lot more independent in college, to study and work on your own, and I didn’t really understand that at the beginning.

And I felt really insecure because English isn’t my first language and I had to write a lot of papers in English. It was really hard at first and my grades weren’t always so good. But I made it in the end. Nobody in our family had ever graduated from college before, so it was a big deal – for the whole family.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This