Do most college courses actually help students in the long run?
As a journalism major, this is a question I have been asking myself lately.
While I believe a college degree is the key to opening many doors to a successful career, I’m not sure the courses offered in many programs are as effective as they should be.
Earlier this semester, I was in a class called Quest for Human Destiny, a religious studies course and one that many University of Iowa students find to be one of the best offered at the school.
But I disagree.
During this class, we discussed the differences between Pagan and Christian religious views. We also read excerpts from the Bible and several novels, like “Catcher in the Rye.” Maybe it is because I don’t really enjoy large, lecture-style classes, but this class did not interest, or benefit, me at all.
I actually dropped this class after the midterm and for more than one reason. The first is because I got a less than desirable grade on the exam and the second, something that probably led to the first, is that I was genuinely not interested in the topic.
Again, I am pursuing a career in journalism, and while that requires me to learn and understand many different topics, ancient religious beliefs are probably not going to be one of them.
On second thought, I’m not sure many people can successfully integrate these lessons into their career. Other than a pastor or rabbi of some sort, how many people regularly use statements and ideologies from a Tolstoy piece during their time as a doctor, lawyer or stockbroker?
However, not all religious studies classes are this mundane.
I am currently enrolled in a religious studies course called Religion and Society. In this class, we read court cases and talk about how religion was applied in the courts’ rulings. Many of the cases have to do with marriage between people of different races.
I think this class has actually helped me in my journalism career, since I am able to more easily understand legal jargon.
My point is that experience is more important than most courses offered at universities. Don’t get me wrong — college degrees are extremely important — but I think they are mainly just resume builders, at least for students in liberal arts programs.
No one can get a decent internship without being in college, and internship experience is often what leads to a job, not the classes one takes while in his or her undergraduate career.
I have learned much more during my time working at different publications than I ever will in any of my journalism or religious studies classes.
As to whether or not this is an indication of college courses becoming easier or irrelevant, I’m not sure, but I think it’s something all students should keep in mind.
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