Massachusetts Daily Collegian

College: A place of lost opportunities

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(Samantha Halm/ Daily Collegian)

(Samantha Halm/ Daily Collegian)

People always say that college is the place for us to explore and find out what it is that we want to do. But that’s not really true anymore. Even in the application process colleges and universities ask you what you want to major in, and if you come in undeclared it tells you, you should pick something before the end of your second year if you want to graduate on time.

On the one hand this makes sense; if you want a certain degree then you must complete all of the required courses for it. But for other people who aren’t completely sure what they want to do, this is a difficult decision to make. Not to mention the fact that most universities make it difficult to take courses in a major unless you have declared it as your major. If college is a place to explore, why do universities make it so hard to do so?

As someone who has many interests, I was looking forward to the opportunity to take a variety of classes and see where my studies would take me. However, I quickly found out that this was not something I could do. During summer new students orientation, advisors told us what classes we had to enroll in, and that was it. When it came time to choose classes again for Spring semester, I went to an advisor and asked them what classes I could take and they told me exactly what classes to take that I should just stick to the requirements sheet. Simple, clear, generic advice, but not the advice I was asking for.

I know how to stick to a requirements sheet, what I didn’t know was how to find and take the classes I really wanted to take, and it was clear that the advisor was not going to help with that. So I went on SPIRE and started searching for classes that I actually wanted to take along with the ones I was required to take; my goal was to try and take at least one class that was purely for my enjoyment and nothing else. But of course it couldn’t be that simple.

I quickly found out that most classes, especially classes above a 100 level, were restricted to a specific major. Some of them offered the opportunity for you to request to join the class, but they wouldn’t even look at your request until everyone in that major had chosen classes. In other words, there is very little chance of getting into that class.

While I understand that part of the reason for this system is to allow people who have chosen that major a better chance at taking all of their courses, I still think there should be a better way for people to have more opportunities on campus. Especially for people who are in science, technology, science and mathematics (STEM) majors, who have a strict set of difficult courses they are required to take, and if they fail them they have to retake them until they pass. The process of retaking a course is time consuming, meaning there is even less of an opportunity for STEM majors to try and take different courses.

So many people come out of college with a degree of convenience, often ending up in a career that is not what they have their degree in. Maybe if we weren’t being forced down one path we’d graduate with a degree in the field that we know we want to be in.

Jasmyn Guzzetti is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]

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