Climbing costs keep students from exploring courses

mattMurphycolor (2).jpg
Matt Murphy

Have you ever had to pass up a class outside of your major that seemed interesting because of high tuition costs? I have faced this dilemma many times before.

I came to college with a plan.

I fell in love with writing my junior year of high school and knew I wanted to study journalism in college. I don’t regret coming to school with such a specific goal in mind, but I do wish I had taken time during my first two years of college to explore other interests.

Illustration by Liz Coffee.
Illustration by Liz Coffee.

The current collegiate system doesn’t really support taking time to explore anything outside of core interests. It just doesn’t make sense economically. Tuition costs are high and still rising, which doesn’t exactly encourage students to stick around to do more than what’s required to earn a degree.

While the four-year plan may be less common nowadays, most students still try to finish in that time frame. That leaves four years to earn a degree and simultaneously build a resume with internships and work experience.

That doesn’t leave a lot of time for math majors to take the dance classes they always thought about.

When our parent’s generation was in school it wasn’t uncommon for students to take more time to finish because they were experimenting with various subjects. For example, my mom took archaeology and history classes for two years before realizing she wanted to be a teacher.

That sort of decision comes with a penalty of tens of thousands of dollars for students today.

With high costs rushing students to get out as soon as possible, a critical aspect of college — the opportunity to grow — has been lost. That’s what college is all about — living away from home during our formative years to develop as human beings, right?

Without the opportunity to explore academic whims and fancies, students lose chances to become more informed people and function better as members of society.

I know that general education classes are meant to broaden students’ horizons and all that good stuff. But I doubt that anyone can say that they experienced enough history in History 130 to really form an opinion on the subject.

If a student wants to spend a couple of years trying to hack it in art classes, they should be able to. One of the worst crimes that can occur on a university campus is a student forgoing classes in a subject they’ve always been interested in because it doesn’t fit a plan.

Perhaps college tuition will be affordable enough in the future for students to feel like they can take extra time to enroll in classes outside of their majors.

Until that day we’ll all just keeping looking at the course description for Introduction to Ceramics and sighing.

Matt Murphy can be reached at [email protected] or @matthewcharlesz on Twitter.