Where’s the value in my Laurier arts degree?

In the past two and a half years, I’ve been a student in Laurier’s faculty of arts and I’ve learned next to nothing. I know exactly what words and terms to use to beef up my essay to get it to 2,000 words or eight to ten pages, depending on what professor you ask. I know what font setting to change all my punctuation to so that it adds pages onto my essay.

I’ve mastered the art of skimming SparkNotes to make it seem like I’ve read the required book.

Other than that, I’ve learned very few practical skills that I can apply when I attempt to get a real job.

I can almost guarantee that when I apply to jobs, my interviewer will not care that I can deduce the role of a female character by the colour of her dress.

Generally, arts students are aware that we cannot make a career out of studying history or communication studies. But what could help would be to have practical courses available to us.

We could have courses on how to edit or how to translate your research skills into a well-paying job.

We are in the unique position of learning a greater skill than what we came to Laurier to learn, but we are not taught how to advertise these skills to the work force.

This is not to say that none of the programs at Laurier offer such skills. Many disciplines have a class solely devoted to research methods that is usually mandatory for second-year students.

Why can’t this be replicated throughout the entire arts departments?        Since most arts programs are so unfocused, professors can only do so much.

Some professors consistently ignore lesson plans to go off topic to perhaps regale students with stories of their personal lives or because they haven’t finished rambling on about a poet’s sex life.

One professor I had even admitted to the class that they hated the subject matter they were teaching.

This is extremely disrespectful. We are paying thousands of dollars to attend a post-secondary institution and better ourselves, only to have to listen to a professor lecture their students like elementary school children about mundane topics such as how university was in their day or their opinions on technology.

How are we supposed to respect them when they clearly have little respect for us and our time?

The blame does not fall squarely on the shoulders of the professors themselves.

Between their research and ever-expanding course load, many profs are indeed overworked. But that doesn’t absolve them from actually trying to engage with their students.

Laurier needs to educate professors on how to connect with their students. Most professors have been teaching for 30 years and know their subject matter fully, but we are a completely different generation and simply learn things in a different way.

Lecturing for a full two hours without engaging the class will only hinder the students. We are a multi-media generation, why not cater to that? At least make an effort to do so.

Of course, this does not apply to every arts professor at Laurier. Yes, there are faculty members who truly do care about their students and engage with them.

However, the disheartening thing is that these kinds of professors seem to be getting more and more rare at this university.

There is also the issue on the administration level. With more and more money being pumped in to other faculties — namely business — and projects like new buildings and new campuses, it is clear that strengthening the faculty of arts is quite low on WLU’s priority list.

How is Laurier going to uphold its reputation of a respectable arts school when it is clear that the university has little respect for the arts that once made it such a great school?

There must be major changes to the way the arts program is structured and it needs to come soon.

letters@thecord.ca

2 Comments

  1. Great article, Cristina!

  2. Cristina, I agree with you. While at Laurier, I rarely turned to professors for job market-related advice because they, having spent practically their whole lives in academia, couldn’t always provide the information I was looking for. At the same time, I quickly realized that the WLU Career Centre has a wealth of resources available to all students; the Centre’s career counselors likely have [at least some of] the answers Arts kids are looking for!

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