In today’s world, many high school students choose to attend a form of higher education to better themselves and to become successful in the future. Most of these students expect the college curriculum to challenge them, to make them work harder than they had previously. Unfortunately, many college students feel that they are not being challenged enough and are passing with putting forth little effort.
At West Chester University of Pennsylvania, sophomore Shannon Doyle said she is currently not being challenged in her classes, but once she is accepted into her major, she expects to have to work harder, “Right now, I’m just taking [general education classes] and it’s all kind of a joke…but I’m assuming once I get into the core classes for my major next year, I’ll have to work much harder.” Doyle currently plans to major in secondary and special education and says that while she does not feel like she’s being challenged right now, it is the beginning of the semester and things could easily change.
“I got A’s and B’s last semester, but I did do poorly in my math class, but math is my hardest subject” said Doyle. Doyle admitted that she should have gotten a better grade in math, but she was overwhelmed with all of her assignments and extracurricular activities. Her issue became time management. Marissa Field, a senior nutrition major at West Chester, said many of her classes required her to balance schoolwork with her part-time job and extracurricular activities. Field admitted that while it was time management for some, the actual content of some of her classes was difficult to understand and required her to work harder.
Jean Harsch, a junior majoring in communication studies at West Chester, said she gets a significant amount of homework from her professors, but it is not work that causes her to “think hard” and apply herself on a higher level. “I’m learning, but not at a challenging level.” Harsch said that she does not think communication studies is a hard major, referencing others who think communication studies is a “joke,” but she thinks it may only be because of the way she is being taught.
Though on the other hand, students that are being challenged in their classes only believe it is for certain classes or subjects. Kieran Berkery, a junior at Bloomsburg University, said in many of his classes, he does not feel challenged, especially if he has already learned the material previously, but the upper levels for his business management major require him to put in serious effort. Carly Ludwig, a sophomore nursing major at Towson University, said she is only being challenged when a professor does not explain the material in an explicit way. While Ludwig admits that her major classes have complex material, she said her professors’ flaws “force me to teach myself the material and I know it would be easier if she taught in a more direct way.”
Though not all professors and students are going to click, some students believe that courses should be challenging because the material is complex, not because the professor makes the curriculum difficult to understand.
Students are often being challenged in a specific subject. Bridget Shanks, a sophomore communication studies major at the University of New Hampshire, admitted she was not taught enough with foreign languages in high school and that led to more challenging work in her college level language courses. “It’s not that my language classes at UNH aren’t being taught well, I have great professors and teaching assistants, but it’s more that I wasn’t given enough of a foundation in foreign languages, and I’m struggling a little.”
For other students, including myself, they pick a major that will challenge them and add a minor or more to challenge themselves. Though I am a communication studies major, a concentration that is picked on for being “easy,” I decided to take classes that will challenge me. I enjoy taking classes that interest me, but are out of my comfort zone and cause me to think on a deeper level. This want for a challenge resulted in applying for two minors, journalism and political science, and being a part of the Honors Seminar Program. As a sophomore, I will have to take 18 credits every semester to be on track to graduate in Spring 2015. Overall, many college students today feel that their work does not require them to think critically, or challenge them to new levels. While many causes may be to blame, it appears that the college curriculum across the country should change and be challenging to all students, not just students with difficult majors or minors.
Victoria Holt is a sophomore majoring in communication studies. Victoria can be reached at VH758202@wcupa.edu.