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Students shouldn’t be made to take so much irrelevant coursework

As a student at the University of Maine who already pays an arm and a leg to attend, I think it’s ridiculous that I need to continue paying to take irrelevant mandatory courses to actually complete my degree, and I know countless other students who feel the same way. Meeting the degree requirements has taken more of my time than necessary. The irrelevant and extra classes are typically harder than the ones required for my major and have a larger workload, so I honestly ended up resenting the subject since I never wanted to take that class in the first place. 

I understand that some courses may be necessary to lay the groundwork for future classes, but other classes that can be taken at any degree essentially serve no purpose. If I can wait until the absolute last semester to take the course, I don’t think it’s really necessary for my degree. However, the general requirements tend to be a laundry list of excruciating courses that bore me beyond belief. 

I think that it would be more cost-effective and honestly would make university education more worthwhile if our degree completion weren’t contingent upon the completion of tangential courses. For a UMaine undergraduate student, it costs roughly $388 per credit hour for non-residential students and roughly $485 per credit hour for residential students. This is a ridiculous amount of money to pay, as most of the required courses offered here are three to four credits. 

I am a biology student with a pre-medical concentration, and I am also minoring in microbiology. So far, the unnecessary courses I’ve taken are an art class, multiple English classes, a folklore class, a women’s studies class and two Latin classes. Now, I’m not saying that I didn’t learn anything from these courses, because I did. I learned a lot of knowledge from each course individually, but none of it was helpful for my degree in the slightest. 

I feel as though since we are the ones paying, it should ultimately be up to us students to decide whether or not we should branch out to take, and therefore pay for, unnecessary courses. I suppose I can see “shopping around” for courses while you’re an undecided major, but once we’ve chosen what subject it is we would like to study, we should get to decide (to a point) which courses we should be paying for. 

Being forced to take introductory-level courses where you really can’t develop adequate skills to succeed in those subjects makes me feel like an incompetent student. The only way to actually get a well-defined skill set from these courses is to take the sequels, which includes paying for more credit hours. Learning rudimentary skills for the sake of a degree completion requirement is a huge waste of time and money. Not to mention the frustration that comes from not being interested in the topics or not being able to develop the introductory skills required for these classes.

A Canadian study shows that only 66.8% of full-time first-year students at the University of Saskatchewan who started in the fall of 2007 graduated by 2014. This means they were not able to complete their program within 150% of the expected time —  for example, within six years of a four-year degree. 

General requirement courses are some of the most demanding and challenging classes I have ever taken. Plus, it is usually difficult to stay motivated and do well in a class that doesn’t interest you, placing students in stressful situations that take time away from studying for a class that they may find more enjoyable and maybe more relative to their major and their degree. I know that I struggle to stay motivated for classes that I don’t enjoy and don’t really deem crucial for my degree. 

Classes that I actually enjoy, I typically ace. I hardly ever miss a lecture or turn assignments in way ahead of time, and genuinely enjoy everything related to the course. However, with classes I do not enjoy, I find it hard to attend lectures, and turn in assignments at the last minute I tend to drag my feet with everything involved. If I didn’t have to take courses that aren’t important to my degree, I wouldn’t have to risk my GPA dropping and dread waking up every morning to attend a two-hour lecture that bores me beyond death.

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