I believe that the voting committee has made a terrible mistake by getting rid of First-Year Seminar as a university-wide general education requirement for the class of 2024 and incoming classes beyond.
There are a lot of mixed reviews out there on this matter. First-Year Seminars crack open many different opportunities for First-Year students that they simply will not receive in their other coursework.
To start, the purpose of general education is to ensure our graduates are well-rounded and have been exposed to different areas of study. Some students felt that this course was a waste of their scholarly time at Monmouth because the content of their First-Year Seminar did not coincide with their major.
A clear majority of your general education requirements are not necessarily supposed to align to your comfort zone, after all, how can your coursework prove that you are a well-rounded graduate if your audit has no diversity whatsoever?
Another major “flaw” seen with the First-Year Seminar requirement is the coursework itself. Since the professor and the content of each class differ, the coursework also differs. One class might be simple and only require readings and a project, while another may require a 12-page paper. The thought of how different the syllabi of these courses appear can be slightly daunting to students; nevertheless, they are different course topics taught by professors from many different departments.
Two students taking the same course, for example Psychology 103, from two different professors could each have completely different class assignments. I see this firsthand because I tutor a wide array of students in various general education classes. Among all the general education classes and all of the various professors, the requirements of the same courses will be different.
Now let’s step into the benefits that the students are missing out on. Each First-Year Seminar class has a Peer Learning Assistant (PLA), which is an older student who mentors students, assists the professor with any needs, and typically follows along with the readings to be engaged with their class’s content. On top of all that, they are a link between the students and campus.
PLAs go through trainings to ensure they know all about campus resources. They are also making themselves available to students outside of the classroom for assistance with anything. Students may also feel more comfortable admitting that they need help to an older peer first other than going to their professors or other staff members.
PLAs and professors also collaborate to bring in, what I believe to be the best part, guest speakers. These guest speakers are usually notable people on campus from resource centers, such as Tutoring Services, Writing Services, and Counseling Services, that offer support to the students.
With this, students get to meet the people who work in these offices firsthand and learn about what services they offer. PLAs also act as guest speakers during class time to introduce important Monmouth sites such as ecampus, Webadvisor, and Accudemia. Where else are they supposed to learn all the ins and outs of these sites and be exposed to all the resources on campus?
Getting rid of this requirement university-wide is not acceptable. Classes are always improving and First-Year Seminar classes can always make adjustments to fit new ideas. I believe that every First-Year Seminar class has benefited students in one or more ways, even if the student themselves cannot identify it. I currently have a student petition on this matter to bring back First-Year Seminar.
PHOTO COURTESY of Monmouth University