The twisted logic of mandatory Gateway Program Seminars

April 4, 2016

Joe Hollmann
jhollma3@uccs.edu

In college, you typically get to choose the classes you want to take and the path you wish to travel.

I understand the importance of socializing students to the university, becoming acquainted with the resources available on campus and warming up to other students in small 15-person sections.

But the principle of mandatory classes at the college level is a twisted logic that exploits student’s money, time and energy that is better used elsewhere.

If UCCS is truly an institution of higher education, you would hope the students admitted are already prepared with middle school skills such as study habits and note taking.

So why does UCCS support required freshman seminar classes?

The idea of using a class to develop friendships is reminiscent of the awkward high school, round-circle icebreakers.

The fact that over five percent of credit hours taught on campus are freshman seminar classes is astounding, particularly when the classes focus on fickle hobbies and interests rather than solid preparatory curriculum.

As an institution that strives to champion open-mindedness, freedom of choice and support of the students, GPS fails to exemplify these ideals.

At its core, the message of GPS classes is that students can’t handle the educational and relational basics of college.

To deem that all students entering into the care of the university cannot choose what is best for them and seek out resources on their own time is a sad reflection of the faith the university has in its students.

UCCS thinks students need as much help as possible and should pay over a thousand dollars in tuition to relearn skills they already know and become friends with people who they will probably never talk to again after the class.

Other programs that familiarize students are perfectly valid, such as orientation or freshman resident student activities.

But mandatory freshman classes, that prove to be of little worth, overstep the bounds and are slightly offensive.

If I enjoy cooking, climbing or running, social media does a better job of connecting me with other students than a class of 15 ever could.

Syllabi give ample information about teacher expectations, and if I want to get acquainted with a professor, then I will seek
that out.

I believe the student body has enough ability to think critically and responsibly to take the necessary actions to succeed in college.

College can be a scary place, but that is usually because a student is drowning in debt (from freshman seminar classes) and family or relational crises, rather than because they don’t know how to talk to an instructor.

Not everyone has a bad experience in GPS classes. In fact, some have great experiences, and I applaud you for your positive experiences.

But I also encourage you to look critically at the costs and benefits of this policy.

Luckily, I escaped the grasp of a freshman seminar. And I am glad to know I was able to choose a class I wanted rather than one that was forced upon me.

College classes should be the clay in which you can sculpt your own pottery, not a prescribed, manufactured mug given to you and told to drink from.