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Classes that Matter

Many classes that students take aren't directly applicable to a job. How can we rethink the classes required to receive a degree?

Photo of Lawrence Chatman
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Who is the target audience for your idea and how does it reimagine the cost of college?

This idea potentially impacts all prospective and current undergraduate students. By allowing students to focus only on classes that are applicable to the job and ensuring that they get real-world working experience before graduating, we can reduce the amount of time that students spend in the classroom, drastically cutting down on the cost of tuition.

Receiving a degree requires many credits, and to fulfill those requirements often involves taking classes that aren’t relevant to work. Fulfilling the requirements for a Bachelor’s degree usually requires at least 120 credit hours of classes. Upon graduation, former students realize that much of their undergraduate classes are not relevant to their new job.

This idea would rethink what it takes to receive a degree. More schools should eliminate classes that add no real value to a degree and implement more co-ops, allowing students the opportunity to gain valuable work experience. I would recommend that in a tradition four-year degree program (like a Bachelor’s), students participate in three to four 6-month co-ops. Students that participate in a co-op that replaces a semester should be relieved from paying the semester’s fees. Making co-ops a mandatory part of receiving a degree would allow students to get real-world working experience while drastically reducing the cost of tuition.

What early, lightweight experiment can you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

Speaking with universities with a smaller student body to determine interest Speaking with schools with co-ops to learn if students still pay tuition while participating in a co-op and, if so, learning what that money goes toward

What skills, input or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

How to get schools to allow students to take more co-ops (and not pay for it) Making the case for more corporations to take undergraduate co-ops

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Are you interested in the Path to Pitching track we've developed for this challenge?

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Photo of Darrick Hildman
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I am an instructor at a community college. I often thought the same thing, why do we have to take classes that don't apply to my degree. I did a little poll the other day of my students. 

Interestingly enough, when my students decided they wanted to go back to school, 90% of them knew they wanted a degree, but had no idea in what. The other 9% new exactly what they wanted to do, and the rest were there for personal growth. 

Here are some other interesting thoughts. 50% of graduates don't work in their field. Also, workers are expected to work 3-5 different careers. 

So how does that work if folks are getting very specific educations and their future career might not even exist?