Our View: Reevaluation of mandatory freshman courses is necessary

In this week’s issue, Grace Potter wrote a story about Truman State University’s current reevaluation of the freshman Self and Society and Symposium courses.

Currently, the courses can be time-consuming and do not provide enough reward for the effort students put in. Because of this, we, the Index editorial board, believe Truman should make significant changes to the courses. 

The Self and Society classes are three credit hours and address a variety of subjects. They can encourage interdisciplinary studies, but they don’t garner as much interest or enthusiasm as needed to be worthwhile 

The Symposium courses have a very large number  of students in each class, causing professors to seem overwhelmed with the amount of coordination and work needed on their part and their preceptors. 

Symposium often seems more focused on assignments rather than introducing the students to the community they have become a part of, which is its goal.. We believe the Symposium courses would be more beneficial to incoming students if there was more focus on informing students about Truman and the Kirksville community. Instead of requiring students to take a photo out in nature, it could be more helpful to show photos and information on different ways to get outside. These courses should be focused on building connections and directing students to the organizations they are interested in.

We believe part of the reason the Symposium course is not effective in its goal to introduce students to the community is that it is disorganized and attempts to fit too much into a one credit hour class. Students have weekly meetings in their specific class, which has an admirable goal of positively impacting the students, campus or community. About once a month, all freshmen gather for a monthly event, usually intended to help them get to know Truman and Kirksville better. The ambitious amount of goals for this one credit course causes it to be difficult to fully achieve any of them. 

The majority of the editorial board took these classes and did not find that they greatly improved our experiences as freshmen. They seemed disorganized, with too many objectives and confusing tasks. The member who did not take the class does not feel her freshman experience was lessened in any way and does not wish she had taken the classes. 

We do believe in the idea of an introductory course for new students but think they could be changed to more effectively improve the new student experience. These courses can be helpful, but they need to be more focused on building connections, not misguided busy work. While we think Truman has admirable goals with these classes, the execution needs improvement. Additionally, instead of requiring two courses, we believe one course focused on introducing freshmen to the Kirksville community and the opportunities it offers would suffice. 

We hope the committee reevaluating the courses will take these opinions into consideration as they make their decisions.