College Needs More of a Career Focus

There are certain expectations that students have when they begin their college education. They expect to learn, to grow as people and to gain skills to help them perform in their chosen career field upon graduation.

From my experiences at St. John’s, the last expectation seems to be only partially fulfilled, and with one year remaining and almost all of my requirements completed, it doesn’t look like that’s going to change.

As I’m sure you’d assume, I’m a journalism major. If you took a look at a list of the courses I’ve taken at St. John’s, that fact might not seem so clear. Here’s the problem: I attend college in the U.S. where I, along with millions of other college students, basically attend the 13th grade – or an extension of high school –  and then take some courses pertaining to my career field sprinkled in.

Here I am as a second-semester junior trudging my way through Italian II and for what? I’m required to attend class, do conventional homework, online homework, attend tutoring sessions (you’d think if a class required tutoring it wouldn’t be a core requirement) and attend two extra-curricular events.

Right off the bat, before I get my final grade, I’ll be starting off with less that 100 percent. Why might you ask? Because on a daily basis I have to choose between things that will help me get a job (internships, the Torch and more) and doing unnecessary work for a class that won’t help me accomplish anything other than a grade mark.

I realize I choose to take on internships, to get myself involved with the Torch and involve myself further in the journalism field. But I do these things because I think they’ll put me in a much better position to succeed in the future than anything that I learn in Italian or most other core classes for that matter.

All of this, quite frankly, leaves little time for me to concern myself with a class that I believe will make zero difference once I graduate. Not to mention that I signed up to go to class, not learn about wine tasting.

And none of this is to say I don’t value a liberal arts education. I do. Enough so that I think approximately half of my college education should be dedicated to becoming a well-rounded individual in all subjects – but no more than that.

College isn’t cheap. You don’t need a degree to know that. A Bloomberg.com article from April 2012 states that college tuition and fees have risen 1,120 percent since records began in 1978.

That rise is quickly making college unaffordable to many young people. So much so that the question is seriously being asked, “Is this worth it?” I’d like to think so, but when I think back to the time I spent in classes like Italian, Psychology, Statistics, etc. I understand where the argument comes from.

You/your parents are paying a lot  for this education. In my opinion, the universities in this country would be helping both their customers and themselves by offering programs that focused more on preparing students for their fields and less time on things that should have been taught long before this point. Newsflash: I know the difference between their, they’re and there. I didn’t go to school from the age of three to 18 for nothing.

This isn’t meant to be critical of Italian or journalism or St. John’s, but rather of the system we’re paying into. This system needs to be fixed; the schools need to rethink their philosophies or otherwise they’re going to see their enrollment numbers drop. But at the same time, if they did drop, maybe the schools would wake up and change the formats of the education system.

What’s the best way to fix that system? That would probably be to limit the amount of work needed for each subject. Instead of taking two foreign language courses, make it one. Instead of three philosophies, make it one. You see where I’m going with this. By having a sampling of each type of course, students get a chance to continue the learning process while not being bludgeoned over the head with courses just for the sake of credits.

Then, after going through the two-year sampling, students can focus solely on their career choice. It’s not a perfect solution, but it definitely stretches those thousands of dollars a little further.

So for now, I go on, with Italian II and the rest of my classes. These issues won’t change during my educational tenure and probably not for some time, but as expenses increase and the value of higher education continues to be questioned, it’s time for universities to take the lead, reevaluate this system and put students’ needs first.