It is interesting to think back on high school as a college student, especially as someone heading into his third year. Nonetheless, I am struck by the similarities between my first two years of college and the four years I spent in high school. Why do these two drastically different levels of education feel so similar?
For starters, let’s look at the classes we take in high school compared to those in college. As a senior, I took classes such as American history, British literature, AP biology, precalculus and maybe some art or theater electives.
When I look at my freshman year of college I see many of the same classes, such as oral communications (which I took as a junior in high school), college algebra, American nations, general biology (which is about the same difficulty as my AP biology class in high school), among a few electives. My big question is: Why the repetition? Why am I taking these classes when I have already taken most of them?
I understand the difficulty in most of these classes is somewhat higher than your average high school class, but, regardless, I see a good number of these have equal or lower difficulty than high school classes. We are paying for an education we have already or should have received, when we were in high school, which, for most of us, was a free public school education.
A lot of faculty and other education savants argue against my point by saying these general education classes are necessary to develop well-rounded students.
However, if students are not up to par on these general education classes, why do we accept them into our university knowing their shortcomings? Are we not robbing those who are up to par of time and therefore money? Is it not ridiculous to waste two years that could be spent finding a passion outside of their career choice? Would the extra time to take electives or upper level classes not create a more diverse and intelligent collegiate community?
I think it would. If you are not up to par with your general education courses, then you should not be allowed to attend said university, or at least not have to pay your entire life savings for a recapitulation of what you have already learned in high school. You could undergo some sort of academic probation where you retake general education classes with no cost to you other than your time.
Think about it. If you get into your college of choice knowing you want to be a business major, you could start on your path to achieving that goal in about two years, which is the time you spend in your junior and senior years of college. That would mean getting your degree and entering the work force in your desired field at a younger age and quicker pace. Instead of being completely broke at 22 or 23-years-old with a degree, you could end up not as broke with your degree at the age of 20 or 21, since you are only paying for two years instead of the standard four.
The money and time saved leaves a multitude of doors open if you want to further pursue academia, such as going for that master’s degree that once seemed so far away, or just getting to work your dream job longer and gaining more experience than your colleagues who would be graduating years after you.
Because in the end, the most precious commodity we have as youth is our youth. We must spend the time we have wisely and efficiently.
With a little change, we might be able to solve one of the United States’ many higher education problems. I think a change such as this would do everyone some good.
I mean, the university might not be able to financially leech off its students for four years, but maybe more kids would stay in school if they were allowed to chase their passions right out of the gate. Most of the people I know who drop out of school do so because of lack of funding or interest.
What this tells us isn’t necessarily that they are not able to get the money, but rather that they don’t find college worth the fortune it would cost. Especially when the first two years of their collegiate experience is as dreadful as the past four years they spent in high school.