College is supposed to be the best years of our lives and it most likely is. Being out on our own, making our own decisions and just being free is a wonderful feeling. College is also supposed to be the time when we grow up, make decisions about careers and lifestyles that will affect the way we live for the rest of our lives.
I believe I am in the majority when I say I have known for a long time what I want to do as a career. I knew from that I would not be a professional athlete for reasons that are obvious, but I knew I wanted to keep sports in my life which is why I became a sports journalist.
When I arrived at CSUN as a “first time freshy,” I knew I would have to take general education courses, but I did not know the extent of them. Three years later, I am still taking general education courses that with all due respect, do not help me with my career at all.
I hate to sound closed-minded, because I am not a close-minded person. However, this is my life, my career, my hard earned money that is being used to pay for courses that come the end of the semester, I do not care about.
An example I could give is history, I think all students should have to take an American history course regardless of their major. It is very important to know where we as a nation came from and learn from some of the mistakes that the past generations have made. So, I decided to take History 271, which is a class on American history from 1865 to the present. I completed this course, I got a B+ in it and this I thought fulfilled my requirements for that section. But I was sorely mistaken. This semester, I had to take another history course, one that dates back to when Iraq was called Mesopotamia. This is a wonderful class, but to journalism major, why do I need it? What is the point of me taking it? I could understand if one were to become a history teacher or an archeologist, but not someone who wants to work in media.
This is not an isolated experience for me or for my fellow students. I am taking 16 units this semester, three are for journalism. I would take more for journalism but the classes are filled up because the school keeps cutting classes. But my point here is I am taking three units that involve my major, and I am in my third year at CSUN.
I don’t know why they call it a four-year degree, according to an article written in the Daily Sundial last year, less than 10% of CSUN students graduate in four years. This is not saying that CSUN students are stupid or lazy, it is saying something else.
Now these general education courses do open students up to new experiences and broaden their minds and teach them things that they may never have learned. They will most likely, however, teach them things they never will use. When will I as a sports journalist ever need to reference the Babylonians or the structure of an animal cell? The answer is I won’t and yet I am paying thousands to “learn” these things and paying hundreds to buy the books required for the class.
The only reason I can think of is why colleges require so many general education courses for a student to graduate is to keep taking in their money.
If tuition costs thousands a semester and add in another $400 for books, that’s a lot of money when talking about 30,000 students. Once the student graduates, the only money the school gets from the student is alumni charges or if they donate to the school. There is not very much incentive to make sure a student graduates in four years or less, not from a business perspective.
The colleges and universities know that people in today’s world need at least a bachelor’s degree to have a decent job and colleges and universities know that they are the few who supply people with that certificate. It is almost a monopoly and students have no choice but to pay the outrages fees that most places charge.
I will admit that I have learned some valuable information in my general education classes, however, I can guarantee they will not help me very much in the real world, which is what college is supposed to prepare me for.
My major classes are preparing me and I have no problem paying for them because they are preparing me for my future. I cannot say the same thing about the general education classes that are preparing me for paying a lifetime of college loans.
Justin Satzman is a junior broadcast journalism major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.