03 August 2010

Questioning the (College) Powers That Be...

Two more days of Introductory Algebra to go. It's a good thing. My brain has reached the saturation point and the excess algebra is running off into the ditches of my mind. Thankfully, my grade to this point is good, so even if I bomb on the final test, I should pass comfortably. Of course, I will study and do my best, but that brings me to the subject of my rant...

What's up with all the prerequisite classes in college? No matter what you want to major in, algebra is required. Oh, that's because you need algebra in order to understand chemistry. Well, you need chemistry in order to understand nutrition. At least that's what I've been led to understand are the reasons I've been required to take these classes. Then, of course, you need College Writing I and II. (I'm going for a nursing degree here, people!) And don't forget Nature Writers!

Okay, let's dissect some of this. A gal in my Introductory Algebra class already has her LPN (for which she didn't need algebra) and is going for her RN. Now she needs the algebra. She tells me that to be an LPN the only algebra she used was a formula for finding the volume of a liquid or some such thing. (I don't pretend that this is a scientifically researched opinion piece. Ahem...)

She also has to take chemistry to become an RN. I remember taking chemistry in high school, and since the class I'm taking in college is Fundamentals of Chemistry I'm thinking it probably won't cover much more than high school chemistry. Now just how much do you suppose an RN has to actually know about chemistry? I suspect it isn't a whole lot.

Now for nutrition. Okay, I'll admit a nurse probably needs to know about this.

That leaves College Writing I and II and Nature Writers. Does a nurse do much writing beyond filling out charts and forms? Yes, her writing should be legible and accurate so no mistakes are made, but if someone gets to this point in their life and can't write a decent sentence, they probably aren't going to learn from a class. Sorry. This sort of thing is picked up through life experience. Nature Writers? Give me a break. (Though I do think I'll enjoy the class if I have time to enjoy it due to the stress of trying to do so many other "required" classes at once.)

My point is this: why not put together one class for nursing students that covers the little bit of algebra and chemistry they will need for their specific job? Throw in some writing practice. Not tons; just enough. Then they may have the energy to do all the Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology and actual nursing courses.

Of course the real reason we're required to take all of these classes is that colleges couldn't survive financially without making us believe that we NEED to take LOTS of classes. "Why not space the classes out and take longer to get your degree?" an innocent bystander asks me. Because I won't qualify for financial aid unless I'm taking enough classes to drive me batty. All of this in the name of becoming well educated and broadening our horizons, right? Ppphhhttt! (I laugh.)

I don't remember signing up for Renaissance Woman 101 and I can educate myself as well as broadening my own horizons, thank you very much! Heck, I've been an autodidact all of my life. Why should someone else decide what sort of trivia I need to stuff my brain with? I can do that very well myself.

And so I come to the end of my rant. I rather doubt that my opinions will change the college system any time soon, so I, like other students, will continue to jump through the hoops that have been fabricated in the interest of filling the college coffers. Good luck, fellow students.


  1. Oh, I know just what you mean! I prayed and prayed that the college would accept my "math for elementary school teachers" as a substitute for INTEGRATED mathematics because I couldn't bear the thought of a semester of math when I hadn't taken any for twenty years! The Lord answered my prayer and I'm STILL so thankful! When students ask me for math advice, I just look at them and say, "You know I'm an English teacher, right?" Good for you going to nursing school! I'll be pulling for you! At least there is mathnerds.com for occasional help!

  2. Well, with the Lord's help I passed alebra with an A! I still don't know how that happened! I also got A's in College Writing I and Long-Term Nursing Care, hallelujah!

    Tomorrow I go to buy my books for the fall semester. I'm looking forward to it, but it'll be lots of work!

  3. I may have passed "alebra", but how about spelling? LOL!