Pathway courses cause confusion for students from other universities

If you haven’t already guessed by my presence on The Orion, I’m studying to become a journalist. So far, I’ve been very impressed with Chico State’s journalism program and the variety of courses offered.

But while planning my schedule, I noticed that in addition to 40 major units and 20 minor units, I have to incorporate nine upper division general education units.

Under Chico State’s pathway program, students have to these upper division general education classes to graduate. These courses are broken off into disciplinary areas such as food studies, international studies and numerous others. Students have to take one course from three different areas within that topic, such as a natural science course, an art or humanities course and a social science course.

I think the idea is to give students more foundation for future careers, but to me, it comes off as more of a hindrance. Students at the upper division level should focus on completing their majors and minors, not extraneous classes that have little to do with them.

I’m at a particular disadvantage since I’m a transfer student. When I first started attending community college, I hadn’t even considered going to Chico State. Therefore, I did not build my schedules around preparing for Chico’s pathway courses because such courses were not available at the community college level. So instead, I focused on taking the classes that allowed me to transfer.

Upon arriving at Chico State, it felt a little disheartening to have to take more general education classes. I was so happy when I thought I took my last science class. Now I have to decide whether I want to take geologic hazards or human genetics, neither of which rank high on the list of things I want to write articles about. Unfortunately that’s all I have to choose from the pathway requirements.

I signed up for the “Ethics, Justice and Policy” because that sounded most pertinent to journalism, but I’m not sure how geologic hazards fit into any of those categories. It would help if all these areas had more than three to five courses to choose from and they all had a solid relation to the pathway title.

That may be my main problem with the pathway program. You might find that one class you really like and is relevant to your major but still have two other classes don’t relate to your major at all. It doesn’t matter though because once you take one class from a certain pathway, you’re stuck with it until you finish the other two courses.

Beyond that, I’m not sure I see the necessity for juniors and seniors to take upper division general education courses. If you’re planning on having a career in a science-related field, then you should definitely take more science classes. For most others, it won’t make a difference if you can’t recognize tornado patterns.

I’m not asking for college to be easy, but I do think the courses I take at the upper division level should reflect what I plan to do in the future. Otherwise that’s nine units I could have used to complete my major or minor.


Nick Sestanovich can be reached at [email protected].