Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Outdated Academy

By Will Deyamport, III, MSEd

Why does the 4 year bachelor's degree still exist? Most are filled with an unneeded, non-usable, uninteresting core. In fact, the majority of courses required to obtain a bachelor's degree have nothing to do with one's major. So, why not have a 3 year bachelor's degree?

I'm not advocating for doing away the core. What I'm saying is that the core is bloated and should not account for half and ,at some schools, 3/4's of one's degree. Not only is it ridiculous, it;s hella costly during this time of rising tuition and diminishing financial aid.

Here is my solution:

Colleges and universities should show some common sense and imagination when it comes to developing degree programs. A major should be at least 60 hours, allowing for students to gain a solid footing and foundation in the knowledge-base and skills necessary to be successful in their chosen field. The core should be no more than 30 hours, with only subject area requirements - not course requirements. Doing so would allow students to take classes they're genuinely interested in, passionate about, or courses that complement their major. For example, instead of a student being forced to take 12 hours of English Composition and Literature, students take writing-based or literature-based courses of their choosing, such as blogging and graphic novels.

The university of yesterday isn't what's needed today. Learning a foreign language is cool, but who remembers what they learned in Spanish 101 5 years later? Plato and Chaucer are interesting and can be intellectually stimulating, but who remembers what they learned in those classes 3 years later? I can't say that I did, and I don't know that many people who have either.

It's time for universities to embrace the fact that we live in a rapidly changing, technological and informational age. Degrees and course offerings should reflect that change. To keep students in school more than they should under the guise of broadening students intellectual curiosities and challenging their assumptions is as asinine as the core. That is why for-profit and community colleges are seeing an explosion in enrollment.

Tell me what you think.


  1. I'll take that a step further, "Who remembers what they learned in Spanish 101 five days after the final?"

    I've been preaching the three-year bachelors for the last seven or so years. I believe that removing unnecessary classes and focusing a student on learning necessary skills is the way to fix our education system. Making education more affordable and giving students a reason to pursue a degree is the only option left! We'll see what traditional universities do with this.

    Also, in the spirit of honesty, I work for a for-profit technical institution, but along with our work we have started partnering with traditional universities that see a value in what we do.

  2. Josh,

    Thanks for your comment. I just don't see the value in taking courses that don't leave an imprint, let alone an impact. I hope that schools wake up to the fact that they are making college out of reach because of insisting on students taking such a bloated core.