Recently, I’ve noticed that several of my friends are struggling to fulfill their COLL 300 requirements. During the chaos and competition of registration, they couldn’t secure a spot in a COLL 300 course for next semester. Since then, several of them have contacted different administrative offices and argued for a greater availability of COLL 300 courses on campus. After doing some research of my own, I’ve come to agree with my friends and I’m joining their campaign for increased COLL 300 offerings.
The College of William and Mary presents the COLL 300 as an opportunity for students to learn about other people, places and experiences around the world. Given the nature of this requirement, students have the option of completing it abroad, on campus, through a study away program or at the College’s Washington Center.
For spring 2020, there are five COLL 300 courses available on campus. Two of these classes require prerequisites, and all of them have already reached their maximum student capacity. One of these courses has actually exceeded its projected number of seats, yet only one of the five global courses has a prerequisite, and none of these classes are full. In fact, some have as many as 22 or 28 seats left.
Why do students seem to be so much more interested in the campus-centered options, even though the global classes have plenty of room and fewer prerequisites overall? The answer is simple: studying away from campus is expensive, and many students are worried about money. Here is a better question: why is the College offering only five COLL 300 classes on campus next semester, especially when two of these courses have prerequisites? I don’t have an answer for this one.
On its website, the College describes the COLL 300 as a way to “take you out of familiar surroundings” and “challenge your ways of thinking.” While these are admirable goals, it’s important to remember that not everyone has the ability, resources or desire to study fulfill the COLL 300 requirement off campus. An international education is limited to those who can afford it. For many students, the only feasible option is to fulfill their requirements at the College.
With this in mind, the best solution to this problem is to provide more COLL 300 classes on campus. Yes, it takes a great deal of time, effort and cooperation to create new courses, but it would be worth it. Each semester, the College provides anywhere from 30 to 200 options for each of the COLL 100, COLL 150, COLL 200 and COLL 400 requirements. If this amount of classes was available for COLL 300 on campus, then registration would progress much more smoothly, and fewer people would have to worry about the financial logistics of studying away from the College. Also, this would reduce anxiety about meeting graduation requirements, especially for upperclassmen.
If the College intends to keep COLL 300 as a part of its curriculum, then it needs to be more accommodating to its students by making this requirement easier to fulfill. Students shouldn’t feel pressured to leave campus to complete their degrees.
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