Students at the University of St. Thomas registered for spring semester classes in November, which prompted an animated discussion on the stthom app: why aren’t there more “fun” elective classes at UST?
Depending on their major, most undergrads must complete 20-25 “upper-division” elective credit hours, typically outside of their major, in order to graduate. While there are a plethora of classes presented in the UST course catalog, many students haven’t actually seen them offered during their time at UST.
Electives are classes that are supposed to give you the opportunity to hone a new skill, gain a hobby, or enrich your knowledge of your major. While, yes, UST definitely offers students enriching electives, there are almost no classes that enable students to learn a hobby or a skill “just because.” At UST, you better be prepared for your elective classes to be chock full of difficult material made specifically for the majors in your class.
As a result, students are forced to search on their MyStThom account for hours, trying to find just one class that interests them and that won’t distract them from their concentration of study, research or internship. This often leads to students taking classes they aren’t even remotely interested in.
Often, these elective courses require students to devote a huge amount of time studying instead of preparing for priority core classes. Senior year, which is often filled with electives, is also the year where, no matter what your major, you must fully invest yourself in either working at a 20-hour-a-week internship, defending a thesis, or conducting research; students don’t want to waste time on endless amounts of homework required by classes they took as an elective.
So, what’s it like at other schools? The Independent thinks the other Houston-area and Texas schools have it better than us. Case in point: the Conrad N. Hilton College Program at the University of Houston, which according to an article by The Daily Cougar, offers electives that include gaming and casino management, and even wine and beer appreciation. Texas A&M offers a class on tattoo body art, and even one on basic first aid. These electives, typically available to upperclassmen only, allow students to either explore a new interest, or simply give them a break from strenuous courses.
To conclude, the Independent is calling on the University to give us more interesting electives. Let’s reach out to local businesses, who now more than ever need our help. UST prides itself on being a school for the whole community, so why not utilize those small businesses around campus? UST could hire representatives from these local businesses as adjunct professors to offer one-time classes like baking, cooking, music production, or even plant caretaking, to name a few of our ideas.
We acknowledge that the University may not have the funds or the manpower available to offer all of the classes in our course catalog, but we think this is a cheap and enriching answer to our original question. We think students would enjoy these lighter electives, and increased enrollment would bring more money and attention to the University.