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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    The issues with higher education

    In the higher education world, there’s not much for students to be upset about, at least for those who can afford it. When I hear about students who pay for every cent of their college degree, I feel bad about agonizing over my homework load, especially since my 30-year-old sister-in-law just finished paying off her student debts.

    Anyone outside this unfortunate situation still has the right to be unsatisfied, however, as spoiled as it may seem to students on a tight budget. Even though someone may be privileged enough to attend college at any expense, he may still encounter some of the frustrating problems of higher education.

    At present, class registration and availability is a serious issue.

    Before I could register for classes last Saturday at 1 in the afternoon, all of the general-education math courses were completely full. It’s frightening to deal with this as an incoming senior because it tells me that I may not, in fact, be let into a math course at all next year, and that would set back my graduation. This is not an uncommon occurrence among UA students, either. There have been students who were ready to graduate in May, but had to change these plans because they could not be accommodated in one required course by the university.

    A graduating English senior had a similar problem to my own last semester, when she was told by both the math and English departments that they could do nothing to put her in the necessary math class to finish her degree. After two unsuccessful meetings with both department heads, she was seriously worried that she was going to be in college for another semester. It took a persistent call from her parents to fix the situation, and this alone is kind of embarrassing. College students, as adults, don’t hold the same credibility as parents, and this makes sense, but does it mean that any student who isn’t allowed into a class needs to cry to their mom and dad about it before seeing any results?

    You can call a senior irresponsible for waiting three years to take a general education course, but it’s understandable for students who struggle with hard classes and feel the need to wait a few years to accept the challenge. Why would anyone want to overwhelm himself too early in college, when there are already dozens of adjustments to adapt to? It seems much easier for a senior to take a difficult course with fewer units and later on in school, when he has more time to focus on getting the help he needs.

    This also poses a problem for underclassmen who haven’t yet reached their registration weekend and still can’t take Math 110, Math 105, or Philosophy 110, an alternative math course for some humanities majors. Even though seniors need the courses more than anyone else, it’s disheartening to see that underclassmen don’t have that many options to choose from, either.

    Besides facing poor class availability, students usually have to make one of two decisions when taking hard classes. Many courses are test-based and often focused on memorization skills. For example, it may mean nothing to an art professor if you know a lot about Vincent van Gogh, an artist who will appear on the midterm. What really matters is that you know his dates of birth and death and can name the type of art he introduced to the world. It’s interesting to know this information, but still upsetting to know that some instructors would rather their students memorize numbers and dates over learning more about the subject matter.

    It circles back to the “”quality over quantity”” idea, which also leads me to believe that survey courses are shallow approaches to education. It’s exciting to have 12 books to read for one course, but at the same time it often proves disappointing because the professor does not have time to explain each one in depth. More often than not, students rush through the readings and finish each book with a diluted education and analysis. In this case, it might be beneficial to keep all 12 books for the future, when there may actually be time to read them and learn more by doing so alone, outside a fast-paced class environment.

    Test-based classes and unsatisfactory course availability may seem like petty inconveniences to a student who pays for his college, but these two problems often run people out of school. If a senior who is just about to graduate is fed up with poor accommodations, he may just make the decision to leave altogether because he cannot undertake the financial burden of another year in school. Some students lose faith in the education system when they learn they’re only trained to memorize and regurgitate rather than grasp a concept.

    If you can’t do so in college, can you learn about academics anywhere?

    -ÿLaura Donovan is a creative writing junior. She can be reached at

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