As you may have gathered from the name, this post is going to be a good old fashioned rant. Too often, strong emotions are refrained from writing, especially prose. Outside of lyrics and poetry these days, most passionate writing takes form in the comments section on fiery Facebook status’, YouTube videos, Reddit and the like. Yet not here. If you want to be subject to my frustration and anger, read on – I will try not to ramble, but be fair warned: this might get a little nasty.
I wanted to address this to Mr. Hatch. But why? As if he cares or would actually take suggestion. I have never heard of or seen a more detached University president. Clemson’s did push-ups during a football game dressed as the school’s mascot. I’ve seen others make surprise appearances at student events, concerts, dining halls, etc. But where are you? Aside from the emails you send to clear the school’s name anytime something embarrassing happens, you’re only to be found at your own ball once every two years.
Sorry, guess you’re too busy trying to make the school more like Notre Dame.
Yet I digress, although the problems may stem from our fearful leader, they branch much farther than just one man. Where shall, I start? Ah! I see, how about the essence of any establishment of (higher) education – CLASSES! I’ve had 16 classes thus far at Wake Forest University, and I can safely say that only 3-4 I have actually enjoyed, learned, or generally benefitted from, a really poor ratio if you ask me.
The idea of “The Liberal Arts Education” is great, it’s a large reason I chose to attend. Truly curious people, the type that seek education, should not just learn about one subject, one tiny finger on the body of knowledge, NO! They should expand, gain influence and expertise from different areas of learning. And I agree, being well rounded is one of my foremost philosophies. All humans should know about science, world religions, literature, politics, the like. It helps us to understand, to be more involved in the world, and along the way become more intelligent, a good path to solve many of the worlds fundamental problems.
But that’s not how we go about it at Wake. Instead of a system where curious, ambitious students take a variety of classes and pursue the interest you most enjoy – you take a series of classes and pick the area you least hate. Let’s look at a few examples shall we? Case 1: Astronomy. I think space is absolutely amazing, spend a few minute perusing the Hubble website, listening to Neil DeGrasse Tyson, or looking up facts about the universe and can really change your mood and perspective about our tiny little planet and everything that rests on it. Thus, I thought a great way to fulfill the second half of my science requirement would be to take Astronomy. How wrong was I. To start, it was a 150 student class, which is far and away the biggest class at the school, but still, any hope of class questions, discussion, etc was squashed there. Instead of learning about relevant things about space, about lunar missions, space technology, the ISS, or neat facts about black holes, dark energy, or alternate universes (we did kind of get to that stuff in the end) we spent a lot of time and energy on information that was both dry and not really applicable or interesting to anybody in the class. Stuff like measuring light, moon phases, etc. As if that wasn’t enough, the homework and tests were insufferable. There was no real instruction in class so doing the exercises online was tedious and it was very stressful to get them right. The tests, while a simple 25 question multiple choice, the only one you’ll get at Wake seemed easy enough, there were always questions on things I’d never heard of, extremely infuriating. Case 2: Music. I like music, a lot. Through my years I’ve learned to play piano, guitar and more recently drums. I love concerts, a good album and definitely appreciate it and recognize it’s importance. So, why not take Music 101, as in easy, fun and interesting class for my divisional. THINK AGAIN!!! It was the hardest class I had last semester. We had to memorize songs for the tests. In what ways does memorizing songs help anybody learn (about) music!? 1200 word concert write-ups, tests that tested how well you learned the trivia-worthy knowledge of the book and lectures that could put game-time Ray Lewis to sleep. I can honestly say that I gained little to nothing from the class yet I put A LOT in the effort to stay afloat in it. So infuriating.
Speaking of classes, how about about my classes for next semester? Oh wait, what was that? You don’t have enough? All of the classes are full? Uhh, yes and yes. I’m sorry, I’m not even going to try to be eloquent or clever here (not that I’m trying to the rest of the time…): WHY, AS A SECOND SEMESTER SOPHOMORE, IS IT SO HARD FOR ME TO GET CLASSES!?!? Seriously, the next semester starts next week and I’m still clawing around, begging for classes to fill up my next semester. Because of this ridiculous rule where you have to have 40 hours to declare (I had 37 by registration time), I was stuck without a time to register for the classes I wanted/needed. Instead, I’m on the wait list for ONE Political Science class, and the others are, ohhh, just because. When talking to the dean of Academic Advising, I asked her why it is that nobody seems to win registration, that it is a big fight for everybody to get the classes they want, she replied with something like, “Oh, well, if we have a class with little registration, that’s a waste of resources, so we intentionally have less classes so that we are effectively using our resources”. What a cold, calculating, emotionless way to view education. Oh, this is just a factory where we pump out students, and we want to do it not well, but just efficient, so we make it so there aren’t empty classes. That really made me mad. It is really hard to get excited for next semester because I know, STILL, that I won’t yet be able to plunge into the academic field that I am interested in. It is essentially, a little bit of a waste of a semester, and that is absolutely inexcusable considering the cost.
Speaking of cost, of which there is a lot for this institution, I’m going to go ahead and say it’s a REALLLLY bad deal. At a net cost of about $52,000/yr for my education, I’m paying about 8x what I would if I had just gone to USC, and about 8x as much as my dad paid FOR HIS ENTIRE EDUCATION as I do for one year. Am I getting an 8x better education than my counterparts? An 8x better education than my father?
Like I’ve said, I haven’t felt that stimulated or intellectually challenged in many of my classes. I’m mostly just frustrated in them, as they don’t achieve many of their intended purposes. The curriculum for my Spanish class included mostly doing hours of annoying online exercises. It was awful, the exercises were just cookie-cutter from the book website, didn’t require any work from the teacher, and didn’t really help with learning to use the language. You could do them endlessly until you got a 100 on it and if it wasn’t a brain-numbing multiple choice it was a fill-in-the-blank which was near impossible to get right online. Learning a language should include lots and lots of commenting to see word and grammar applications, to work out kinks, and to become comfortable and familiar with the language. Our class included none of that.
I’m so excited to take TWO MORE Spanish classes so that I can really use that Spanish in my everyday life so that I can keep those skills.
While I’m still talking about classes, a little side-note here. Of my five classes this year, 3 of them were taught by teachers instructing the class for the first time, 2 of them at the school for the first year. This is annoying firstly as the class suffers from a teacher not yet knowing how to best teach the class without the opportunities to know the kinks and flaws of the curriculum and also worrying that the school can’t hold onto teachers. If we claim to be top-tier or ambitious, and if the market is for teaching flooded as it seems, why is it that so many teachers are moving around? Anyways…
I might change that last statement a little bit. If you go to the Business School here at Wake and do well, it might be worth the money. And lemme tell ya, nobody loves money more than those business school folks. As a “Liberal Arts” school in which they so enslave us into taking these annoying classes, the least they could do would be to show equal favoring to all the majors. But no, how about that offing Business School baby? HOW ABOUT IT? You know what, the business schools ability to get people jobs is keeping our US NEWS REPORT College Ranking up, let’s build them and brand new, nice-ass business school, JUST FOR THEM, and while we’re at it, let’s have the past 3 commencement speakers pertain especially to the Business School kids. Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud we have powerful Business Execs as alum and that we have that strong major, but if kids want to pursue an interest or passion that doesn’t entail accumulating as much money as fucking possible, we should have equal footing too. (Extra, really funny reading here, http://bit.ly/Wp01s1 )
COMPLETE CHANGE OF SUBJECT!
One of the reasons I chose Wake was because of it’s unique size. At around 5000 students, it seemed ideal. Big enough to make it seem big, to have a wide range of people to meet, clubs to get involved in. Small enough to also have that close community feel, and to feel like an individual to the faculty and staff. But I now realize that 5000 is a unique size for a reason, it doesn’t really work that well. We have 5000 students and for that many kids we have ONE small(ish) cafeteria and ONE really small gym. They’re both always crowded, which makes them really less enjoyable. We’re getting new ones, but by the time they’re operable, I’ll be almost done. Instead of having that combo feel of big and small, it’s neither. I don’t feel like the campus and bustling and active and I definitely don’t feel like a close connection to the Wake family as a whole. It’s difficult to feel that way after everybody groups off and becomes somewhat hostile to the prospect new members after the first semester or so. Part of that is definitely the lack of arenas in which the student body can really come together or collaborate. We don’t have a student center of any kind, Clemson has a great one replete with bowling alley, basketball courts, ping pong tables, lounge area, etc. Nobody gives a damn about sports (probably because it seems like the players and coaches don’t give a damn either) so we don’t have that rallying point. Plus, the Greek system (of which I am a part) doesn’t help in the division between the kids who choose to take part and those who don’t or couldn’t get in. How sad is it that the only place where our students come together is the effing Pit (our cafeteria).
Last point here and I’m sure it’s something all of our students agree on. FUCK PARKING MANAGEMENT!!! Holy Hell guys, could you NOT be agents of Satan for just a couple of hours? First off, parking way the fuck off campus for $300 a year is enough, that’s way more than what my peers at other schools pay for probably better situations. Secondly, why the $50 tickets for minor infractions? If I pay $300 for approximately 180 days of parking, why are you fining me $50 for a couple of hours in the wrong spot. That $50 should get me 30 days of parking you assholes. Plus, that fine is ridiculous in theory. Some fines are for late fees like Blockbuster, fining you for the lost profit they could’ve had if they had the movie back. Some fines are for damage, like if you fined me for hitting a fire-hydrant, or fines for enlargement, if I parked in front of that fire hydrant. That $50 ticket doesn’t fall under any of those justifications!! Okay, so maybe it’s a deterrent, but a deterrent from what!? Taking a teachers spot, like they don’t have enough already, or like they’re going to be there from 5PM-2AM!? Or a deterrent from parking in Q or W, where there are usually ample spaces!? Horrible money grabbing practice. And they refuse to do anything about it, like offering more parking or becoming more lenient.
I’ll wrap this up by commenting on that final theme. Even though Wake is technically a “Non-Profit” organization, and boasts the “Pro Humanitate” slogan and all the help they give, they seem to fall to the flaws of money just like any other. The rampant penny-pinching and rip off deals (housing, parking, books, tuition) seem to pry on the hopes of the students and vulnerability of the parents. Of course, Wake aren’t the only ones, it’s rampant in American society, but I thought Wake might be better than that. And along the lines of parking, there seems to be little action among some of the problems that Wake acknowledges. The campus is horribly homogenous, a lot of physical and social minorities don’t feel comfortable, a lot of people are mad at the costs, a lot of people are mad at the sports, mad at parking, mad at a lot of things and there doesn’t seem to be much being done about it.
I make Wake sound like a terrible place here, and of course, others experiences may be much different than mine, so I don’t want you to thing it’s the most awful place on earth, there are a handful of things I do like. Yet, I’m not sure they outweigh these negatives I’ve outlined. Let’s see if they can change my mind.
If you’ve read this far, wow, thanks, I know nobody likes to listen to/read complaining, so you’re awesome.