Valuable Experience for a Price

Experiential education is a requirement for many majors at the University. For those students who have not studied abroad, this means working at an internship. In order for an internship to count toward the experiential education requirement on our academic audits, we have to pay for a three credit class involving proof of 120 internship hours and a final paper. However, if internships are generally unpaid work, how are we supposed to afford the cost of over $2,000 for a three credit class?

Many of the editors at The Outlook struggle with finding time to complete their internship hours while still making some kind of income. Working 120 hours at an unpaid job over a 15-week semester grants students far less time to work at a regular, paying job. Not only are we not generating income, but we’re losing money due to the hefty price of college credits and travel expenses to and from our internship sites.

As for the class, some of the editors cannot understand what their tuition dollars are paying for. The course relies heavily on the hours spent at the internship sites. Some editors who have taken the class said that their class only met a few times during the semester, they do not use campus resources, and the only contact they kept with their professors was checking in via email.

We do understand that the professors who teach the internship classes need to get paid, but the time required by instructors for the class is far less than is necessary for a class that meets each week. The only assignment that needs to be graded is a final paper at the end of the semester. We do not make light of the support we get from our professors or the effort they put forth. However, we do not believe that a three credit tuition from a class full of students is necessary to compensate the time that teachers spend in the classroom or grading assignments.

In order to make the requirement fair for both students and faculty, much of The Outlook staff would be willing to pay a discounted price to the University. Instead of paying for three credits, we should be able to pay for one, even if it is weighted less on our GPA.

One editor points out that the businesses that students intern for are in no way affiliated with the University most of the time. In that respect, we are paying an institution over $2,000 for another business entirely to teach us new skills and provide us with experience. If we have to pay at all for an internship course, why should it be to the University and not our work site?

Once students have fulfilled the experiential education requirement, they do not have to pay for future internships by the University’s standards. However, some internships will not accept students who will not be receiving college credit for their work. Some editors said that one of the requirements when applying for their internships was that they had to be receiving credit, which they then had to pay for. It is a catch 22 that we cannot seem to escape.

One editor said the cumulative cost of the experiential education course, commuting and meals has actually prevented her from applying to potential internships in the city. Although some of us have parents who help support our educational endeavors financially, the cost of interning can take a toll on our families as well.

Some editors believe that internships should not be required at all while others believe that they should be required without the cost of the three credit class. Internships provide the real world experience that we will encounter after graduating. One editor believes that if they are not required, many students would not take advantage of that valuable experience. Most of us would not mind logging our hours or writing a final paper, but the financial stress is often too much for us to handle.

If the University cannot agree that students should not have to pay for their uncompensated internship experience, lets compromise. We understand that students have to pay for our education and experience, but The Outlook staff doesn’t think we should have to pay over $2,000.

Instead of a three credit course, cut the cost down to one credit. The professors’ work would still be compensated and more people might be willing to take the class. While some students might not be completely satisfied with that outcome, it is an improvement from the financial strain that many of us are currently experiencing.