When students begin the journey of becoming an expert in their field of study, they face the reality of what needs to be completed for core, majors and Pacific’s “four pillar” requirements early on in the process.
These requirements on their own can seem daunting and time-consuming to many but the overall concept is not illogical or unheard of to students.
It is the addition of the focal studies requirement to the list that seems ill-fitting and quite frankly, time that is not well-spent for students.
Core requirements and the pillars are similar to studies that students had to complete in high school, so the logic behind having an understanding in math, writing, science and the arts is sound.
Focal studies, however, are intended to help students establish understanding in broader topics outside their major.
When completing core and pillar requirements, students are already approaching topics outside their comfort zone.
With academic requirements such as foreign language, social sciences, math, English and the ambivalent First Year Seminar – better known as Intro to Expos – it’s seemingly impossible for students to explore what they want.
With this in mind, students are very aware that during their four years at Pacific they will at one point walk into a class that they were not particularly interested in or will walk out concluding, “I will never need to use any of this knowledge in my future career.”
With the past requirements, students already have been forced outside of their comfort zones to be more knowledgeable in diverse topics that are not easily applicable to their major.
Focal studies are an unnecessary addition because they stress a point that has already been previously stressed through prior requirements.
And with the pairing of courses offered in each focal study and their unavoidable irrelatively to students’ majors, one may end up wasting their time in a course they are even less interested in than the ones they took to complete their core requirements.
Focal studies should not be about scanning the academic catalogue for courses you have already completed or ones that are required by your major.
It should be about branching out and exploring other areas of interest and expanding knowledge not only in your major, but also in other areas of study.
It’s nice to assume students have the freedom to take whatever focal study they want, yet, year after year, students are picking and choosing with no regard to interest or broadening their personal knowledge.
Tying focal studies in with other academic requirements does not lend itself to exploring academic options.
The goal of every student is to graduate in four years, and dabbling in other fields of study is nearly impossible in this time frame.
If students decide to explore classes outside of their major requirement, they can almost forget about pursuing a minor or double majoring.
In the end there isn’t enough time unless students decide to spend another $20,000 plus for an additional semester.
Coming to college, we assumed that our interests would be of top priority.
But just like high school, its all about meeting the requirements before graduation and hopefully someday among a career, family and whatever else life throws their way.
Students will be able to dabble in interests like ceramics or world religions eventually. So long as its not on university time, students are free to explore.