Your University Doesn’t Care About You
Spencer McCullough
384

There are a couple of critiques I have as a college prof — though I really like your approach of becoming well-rounded and seizing college as an opportunity to learn a lot about a number of different things; to be frank, I wish more of my students did what you just outlined.

However, students often need pre-req’s before going into the more advanced classes for a pretty good reason, and they want a particular sequence of courses because they need to understand where the students in their classroom are in terms of knowledge. Even a second year course requires a fair bit of first year knowledge in order for everyone’s experience to be successful. If you take, say, a creative writing class, we assume you know sentence structure (clearly, not a problem for you but….well, if you cross to the other side of the desk, you’ll be amazed). If you take a course on a particular type of Christianity, you need to know a bit more about what Christianity is on a World Religions level, and we assume that knowledge. I have been pretty happy to admit curious students into my courses without pre-reqs, but I’m pretty up front about their chances for success without doing a lot of background reading (though I’m always happy to point students towards a text or two).

One of the reasons that we make those forms a bit hard to find is because we want the students who find them to be able to be the kinds of students who can pick a discipline up at the 200 or 300 level no problem. The kind of critical thinking that is necessary for working the system is a pretty good indicator of your critical thinking abilities in terms of fitting into the class when you eventually get a seat in it. The other reason is we want to make sure that the students we credential and vouch for are pretty consistent. If we send you from our career services department to a field that is interested in your major, we need to know that you can do the work. It’s a pretty high stakes game on the prof-side. Our University’s rankings depend on your success (not just in terms of your raw paycheck, but your ability to work in your field), and a lot of business are not doing job training anymore, and they are privileging the college programs that provide that job training through either their coursework or a series of paid and unpaid internships that save them the cost of investing in you early in your career. It’s a tough sled all around.

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