Why Do Colleges Waste So Much Time and Money?

why-do-colleges-waste-so-much-time-and-money

Most people who know me from my blog recognize me as that crazy lady who homeschools ten kids. 😉 What many people do not know is that I have an 11th child who is in college. Makes sense. This is a homeschool blog, so there’s really no need to mention it.

Today, however, is going to be different because my inspiration has come from some things my eyes have been opened to since he started college. Up until this point, his experience has been mainly pleasant, but there is one thing that has been hanging out in the back of my mind that I really need to bring to light. 

Why do colleges require students to participate in- and pay for- classes they will never need?

Have you ever thought about that? Why are there “core classes” which are mandated to be completed that may have absolutely nothing to do with a person’s chosen occupation?

Isn’t that just a waste of time and money? My son is majoring in creative writing. Why, then, is he required to take math courses? He covered all of the math he’ll ever use in life while still in school, so, really, what’s the point?

Going even further, why is he required to take a science course, or even a social science class? Shouldn’t he be focused on, well, writing?

Common sense would indicate that his days should be immersed in an array of English classes, not in a lecture about what parallaxes are, or what the difference is between nihilism and materialism. Not only is this a waste of precious time, but it’s a waste of money, as well.

I know there are people protesting, He’ll be a better writer with a well-rounded education!!

I completely disagree. If the average person thinks back to their days in school, they don’t remember much besides the basics. Sure, they were exposed to many, many topics, but how many of them made an impact? How many of those lessons actually stuck? I’d wager it was only those for which there was a need (like the basics), or those which they found to be interesting.

Years ago when I was in school, I probably would’ve fallen for the same line. But now as an adult, I know better.

If I want to know more about something, I look it up. I go to the library or research it on the internet. I ask people questions who may know something about my topic of interest.

Formal education is not the only way to learn things. 

In fact, from my own experience, I’ve found that it is one of the least effective ways in most areas.

So, the argument that a well-rounded education is necessary for: insert your choice of words here, falls a bit flat.

Although this post isn’t about homeschooling, I will say that shedding the preconceived notions about learning I was taught in school has really made me aware of some of the ridiculousness in what our society deems “education.”

There is only one reason that I can assume would cause an institution to force its students to take and pay for classes they don’t need.

Money. Plain and simple.

Doesn’t it always come down to that?

Several years ago, I used to jokingly tell people that I hoped that someday homecolleging would be the next trend in education. While I know that will never happen because there aren’t many parents out there with the knowledge to train their kids to become doctors or physicists, I do believe there’s something that colleges and universities could learn from the homeschool movement.

True learning lies in indulging the interests and needs of the learner.

All of the extra “core subjects” that have nothing to do with a student’s major should be set aside for only the students whose majors actually require them.

Not only would college be more effective if this principle were implemented, it would be more affordable, and hence, more accessible to other people.

It’s time to take the “business” out of college and let it be a place of true education. Now what could be better than that?

 

Author: Shelly Sangrey

I'm Shelly, a Christ-following, homeschooling Mom of eleven children ( okay, not ALL children. My oldest is 23.) I met my husband right after graduation, and we've been together ever since. Though my life can be hectic at times... okay, ALL the time, I wouldn't change it for anything.

25 thoughts on “Why Do Colleges Waste So Much Time and Money?”

  1. So true! I have three kids in college and all those core classes do is cost money and add years onto their college education. So many college graduates are coming out with mounds of debt. And what does this say about public high school education if college kids have to repeat core subjects all over again? I know there are other countries that don’t waste time and money on college classes unrelated to the major. I wish our country would rethink education in general.

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  2. Totally agree! My talented son who wants to lead worship and record music was talked into college by our worship leader. Instead of spending lots of time on music he’s just squeezing it in while he works part time at the church and goes to school. It kills me that he’s spending so much money and time on these core classes. And now he wants to get married but can’t yet. He was unschooled and a very good self-learner. Somehow God will use this:)

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    1. Yes, He will. And it’s so frustrating to hear stories like that. I know the worship leader probably thought he was helping, but these are the dangers when people are led to believe that education can only happen in certain ways. I wish your son the best!

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  3. I’ve been complaining about this for years! Seems like it keeps getting worse and worse too. Most colleges around us now take 5 years to get a 4 year degree unless students take a heavier load of classes. It’s so frustrating that students can’t just take the classes they want and focus on what they are interested in.

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  4. I actually enjoyed my general education classes more than the classes for my major. I don’t have so much an objection to colleges requiring some gen ed credits as I do the money that is wasted on other things. My college spent $500,000 on random, ugly statues to place around campus. If they had bought these from professors or students at my college it wouldn’t have bugged me so much, but they went to Colorado, my college was in Kentucky! They also raised my student fee so our football team could move up a division, I really don’t care about sports. If colleges reduced their frivolous spending they could reduce the cost of college all together and then maybe students could still take the gen eds and be in less debt.

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    1. That’s sad to hear. I think it’s great that you enjoyed the core classes. I know that’s not the case with many people, though. Additionally, the requirement of these classes makes pursuing a degree take much longer than it would if a person only had to take those classes they desired.

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  5. That’s one of the reasons my oldest is struggling with even wanting to ATTEND college. She knows she will have to take many classes that have “no value” to her… well, her future plans anyways. She’s been my “out of the box” learner and it has to be applicable. So taking English 101 that has no “application” to her degree (music and/or missions) would totally frustrate her.

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    1. I completely sympathize with her. Why do children spend so many years learning the core subjects, only to be required to study them even further in college? Sounds like overkill to me.

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  6. I’ve always found the American college system confusing because people seem to have to study so many random different things. Here you just pick one, or at most two, topics and that’s it. I get that it’s supposed to make for a better rounded education, but surely the whole point of college is to specialise? #FridayFrivolity

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  7. I don’t know about core classes but at a guess, it’s for people that change their mind on what they want to do – give them a platform to change stream. Think about how many people you know that have had a total career change?

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  8. I’m a homeschooled grad who majored in Mandarin Chinese and graduated in the usual 4 years, was completely done with my B.A. by the time I was 20. I went to a liberal arts college on a full scholarship, so that does influence my thinking–I’m extremely grateful for the chance I had to get an excellent education without the usual financial outlay. Yes, I’m definitely sure that a financial factor is at play in the gen ed courses required. I enjoyed nearly every course I took in college and, 4 years post-grad, have seen their value in my life, so I’m glad I didn’t solely take Chinese language and history and culture classes that were required for my major. One of the seemingly most pointless classes I took in college was one on Greek Mythology–I have worked as a private English teacher for 3 years now with students at the high school/college level and you couldn’t believe how many times I’ve had to talk through the plot of The Iliad or The Odyssey and assist my students in studying and comprehending the very strange world of Greek myths. Pretty funny how that worked out!

    I don’t think there’s an easy answer for what classes should be required and what classes shouldn’t. English 101 is something I’d see as a necessity in any college degree–working as an educator, I know that too many teens and adults do not know how to write well–a skill which is useful for life in general, in addition to being nearly universally practical in careers–I’m also a licensed cosmetologist, and yes, we don’t do a whole lot of writing in cosmetology, but even there, good spelling, excellent vocabulary, and a good grasp of grammar will help you attain more coveted jobs. In the same vein, my college required a public speaking class for all graduates, a bit of a controversial choice, but I think learning the basics of speaking well in a public setting is universally useful–even for those not-so-word-oriented major, perhaps those majoring in math or IT or engineering (my brother will graduate as a computer engineer next year and I’m very glad that he’s taking a public speaking class, for he certainly needs to practice!). There will never be a day when all people agree on what classes are necessary or not-necessary–for me, I’m okay with erring a little on the side of too much book-learning rather than not enough. Granted, since I was going to university for free, I took a number of classes that weren’t necessary for any requirements, simply because I had the opportunity to learn, and I didn’t want to waste a single ‘credit’ my scholarship covered by only taking the minimum classes necessary. Real life experience is highly necessary as well–I’ve now lived and worked in three countries in my life and using my Mandarin language skills while living in China may not have taught me more than four years of classes, but it did give me a lot more confidence to put what I’ve learned to good use!

    I’m grateful for my education experience but it’s certainly not for everyone. My parents both attended an engineering university which included few unrelated courses at all, and students spent half of their year not taking classes at all but interning at a company, putting the skills they learned into use. My Mom wasn’t a good fit for the school, but my Dad absolutely thrived. I considered going to that same engineering college but my love for languages prevailed, probably to my parents’ chagrin, after they had me studying AP Physics, Calculus, AP Chemistry, and all that good stuff in our homeschool high school. Like you mentioned the actual “interests and needs of the learner” are important, and those interests will determine their future, possibly even more so than a degree!

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  9. Oh. My. Goodness. This was exactly what my son (graduating this year) and I were talking about last week. He had looked it over and decided he could finish up all his courses in his major in three years and then start his MBA. That is until I reminded him of Gen Ed requirements. His exact comment “That’s stupid.” It’s really is when you consider that he has been in dual enrollment and his college classes are counting for his high school classes. They are, for the most part, the exact same information. It is most certainly a waste of time and money.

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  10. OMG! yes great post. I am livid with these costs! I just found out my daughter won’t be graduating in June 2017 after all because supposedly she still needs a “few more credits”. Every semester she takes exactly the courses her counselor reviews with her so how on earth four years later we still not done. Robbery right in your face too. Our education systems suck across the board.

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  11. Money, money, money – yes! And there should be a difference in post-high school learning/training for most all careers people go into (like doctors, engineers, etc) and the path for someone who wants to be “well-rounded” and make their life’s work scholarship (think PhDs, professors, philosophers, etc.)

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