Maxwell Hawkins Headshot

College is not what it used to be. It used to be the case that only a small population of the U.S. attended higher education for the sake of pursuing degrees in STEM, M equals medicinal studies and legalistic studies. Then, from those that graduated, the job market was able to select from that group of graduates for the required jobs. This is not the case anymore for the most part. There are many issues with the current education policy that affects the job market and students’ learning.

First, Google and YouTube have broken education. With the increased accessibility to technology and the advancements of those technologies, knowledge is now readily available within seconds. Don’t know what a definition is? Google it. Don’t know how to solve a math problem? There’s most likely someone on YouTube to explain it. Plus, most homework problems, if they come from a textbook, are already solved on Chegg — don’t tell your professors.

All these combined almost cancel out the value of the “information regurgitation” system that our education system is based upon. If education is based upon the regurgitation of trivial information, then that system of learning is now inefficient when all information is available quickly.

Next, secondary school needs to be more focused on the workforce than it currently is and needs to be more cognizant of what they are spending time on. Memorizing Shakespeare for the sake of memorizing Shakespeare is not effective policy, especially with how you can google the entire script of Macbeth. I could have been studying works of Aristotle or Plato in the two weeks it took my English class to be taught to memorize Shakespeare.

Requiring a “Personal Finance” class to teach high school students to do taxes, learn to save money and how to measure costs would be extremely helpful for adult life and is taught by very few schools in the U.S. Also, providing more classes that focus on hands on jobs, like teaching basic electronics for those interested in the subject, would greatly help students who are wanting to go to trade school or a technical school.

Third, Gen-Ed requirements are trash. From my own personal experience at UT, when I was a computer science major, I was forced to take cultural anthropology and medieval history, and as a political science major, I was forced to take intro to classical music and evolutionary biology. To write good codes, I don’t need to read "Canterbury Tales" or learn how Ecuadorian culture has changed over time. To write objectively good public policy, I don’t need to study the differences between the Baroque era and Romantic era and I don’t need to know which species of mollusk live in which environment based upon their adaptation.

It is a waste of both time and money to require students to study something that is completely unrelated to the subject of which they want to study. Having these general classes available are a great idea in case a student wants to explore others areas of study, but requiring them is ridiculous.

As a short side note, the vast number of majors that a student can choose sometimes do not line up with a job market. Colleges need to sit down with every philosophy major, women and gender studies major and art history major and have a talk about how there may not be a job for studying these things. It is a disservice for the student if they spend a ton of money and time into studying something that there is a small job market for without someone telling them of this.

Last, post-secondary education has become profit focused instead of education focused. Increasing tuition while students were required to go fully online is not very considerate of the education that students are receiving.

Colleges across the nation have become like hotels, with multiple pools, restaurants and other unnecessary things that raise the cost of going to college without increasing the value of the degree that a student receives. Did UT really need a Steak and Shake? Or, could they have focused on education content and increased professors’ salaries. Is UT ever going to finish the West side of campus, or are students going to go an entire four years for a degree while the campus is still not finished being rebuilt?

Many things need fixing within the nation’s education policy if we are going to focus on learning instead of regurgitating information to receive a passing grade. This is all so a student can receive a good enough GPA to be hired by an employer that will train the student enough, so they really didn’t need to go to school in the first place to work at the job.

Maxwell Hawkins is a junior at UT this year studying political science, public administration and economics. He can be reached at mhawki13@vols.utk.edu.

Columns and letters of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff.

UT Sponsored Content