College Makes No Sense

I know I’ve mentioned a few times on here how I’m in school at the moment, but if you weren’t aware, I’m currently in the midst of finishing up a degree in college. And, since I’m finishing up a degree, that means I’m also doing both the hard level courses to meet the requirements for my degree, as well as some easy courses to finish the general education requirements. In fact, at this exact moment, I’m working on my capstone project, while at the same time taking a 100 level music appreciation course.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my time over the years in and out of college, it’s that for reasons that feel absolutely incomprehensible, 100 level courses take far more effort than the 300 or 400 level courses at any college. Like, for some reason, doing the work that actually applies to your degree takes far less time and effort than the little introduction to other subjects classes that you take to fulfill the “rounded” education colleges like to offer.

Which means that right now, as I’m working on my capstone, the penultimate project for my degree, I’m spending far more time and energy on answering questions about medieval Gregorian chants than I am on the stuff that I’m actually intending to pay to learn about.


I’m serious here. Why? This has been the case in all three of the colleges I’ve attended, and it makes absolutely no sense to me. I’ll give in to the concept that there’s reason to want to expand what we are teaching college students to ensure they are having an expansion of their mind, outside of simply preparing them for their career, even though I think that if you’re paying the exorbitant amounts of money to prepare for a career, you should really be mostly focused on preparing for that career. What I can’t understand, and maybe simply refuse to understand, is why we allow these classes which exist purely to give students alternative perspectives than they might have come in with to take up so much of their damned time.

I don’t get it.

I love the idea of being able to take classes that are a bit more fun than necessary. These classes can, in some situations, act almost like a palate cleanser from being stuck learning about one subject for far too long. But the idea that these classes can be so demanding that they are the ones that actually cause students to break down due to their overwhelming workload, well, that I have a pretty severe issue with. I’ve taken three credit courses on women’s history which have required three times the amount of effort/time on my part than the three credit courses on the ethics behind my actual degree program. This is a problem. While knowing women’s history is, for certain, important, I would think that knowing the ethics of the career you’re pursuing should be the more important one.

But, of course, part of this is probably due to the lack of actual requirements in place for governing what you get out of a class. All that really is required for a class to exist is a subject they can link to degree requirements and a schedule of class hours per week. Outside of classroom work doesn’t matter, just how much time you spend sitting in a seat.

I’ve never been a big fan of the higher education system in America, but if there’s one thing that bothers me more than most, it’s that we can have our students spend way too much time on the fluff courses and then completely gloss over the actual stuff they need to know to succeed in their jobs. This is why simply having an education isn’t good enough for most jobs today. They require on-the-job experience. Graduating college doesn’t mean you know anything, it just means you took the time to go to college. And this, my friends is a problem.

But, at least I spent two hours studying the sounds of Hildegard von Bingen this past weekend so I could write a paper about a concert I was listening to, while still failing simply because I didn’t call out enough of the names of her songs in the review. The professor actually congratulated the efforts of my paper, stating it went further than most students, but still gave me a failing grade purely because I didn’t specifically name out enough of the songs from the concert. So, now I get to rewrite the paper, which then, of course, will primarily be a rewrite mostly focused on finding reasons to list the names of songs which all sound the same because that’s kind of a main component of medieval chant music.

And then, of course, for the projects that matter because they are a part of the actual degree I’m pursuing, I can leave out entire steps of the process and they’ll pass the paper without even a comment.

This makes sense, right?


2 responses to “College Makes No Sense”

  1. My spouse tells stories of completely blowing off papers or not going to class in non-major courses but acing the finals. I think he persuaded the prof to pass him because he clearly knew the material but simply didn’t have time for the busywork because of the demands of his major (music, as it happens). As a grad student, my brother taught a music course for non-majors and is still blown away by the great questions those students would ask that music majors wouldn’t even think of. They had to write concert reports, but I don’t think his grading was anywhere near as demanding as what you experienced. Hang in there–you’re almost done!

  2. I’m sure experiences vary. And there’s definitely something to be said for the idea that the major-specific classes not appearing to take as much work because they’re in the field you’re interested in (and in my case, I’ve been doing the job this major applies to for over a decade). Or maybe it’s just music that takes so much work? 🙂

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