Some NIU departments need more variety

By Jack Baker

Sometimes, I feel like I’m paying to take the same class twice, and it sucks.

Last year, I took Media Management (JOUR 449) where we talked a great deal about media convergence and media conglomeration and the effects they have had on media and society. Now, I’m taking Mass Media in Modern Society (JOUR 483) where we have spent a great deal of time talking about the exact same things.

The courses have covered a few different topics, but there is so much carryover, I don’t know why they are both part of the requirements for a degree in journalism.

Now, I know that sometimes topics need to be discussed in a number of different settings, but in this case the classes have discussed a lot of the exact same topics in the same context. I don’t see any educational benefit in having to re-learn information that I was already required to know from a previous class.

Furthermore, I feel like I’m being ripped off, because I’ve had to pay to take the same class twice. According to the Undergraduate Tuition and Fees page on NIU’s Office of the Bursar website, the in-state tuition rate for a student who started in the fall 2008 semester, like I did, is $224 per credit hour. That means a three-credit hour class costs me $672.

That’s a lot of money and I don’t feel like I’m getting my money’s worth when I’ve already learned the majority of the information in the class.

In the last two years, I’ve spent $1344 to learn about how media companies have changed in recent years and the effect these changes have had on the information available in society. I would have rather been able to spend half of that money on learning about other topics.

This is not just a problem with journalism classes, I’ve seen similar problems in psychology. In each of my lab classes, we have spent more than the first month reviewing statistics and research methods. Now, these are important topics to know when running an experiment and interpreting the results, but to get a degree in psychology, you are required to take both statistics and Research Methods (PSYC 305).

These are just two examples, but I am sure there are more.

A couple weeks ago, the Northern Star Editorial Board ran a series of editorials making suggestions for NIU in order to help meet the goals of the Vision 2020 plan. Course variety is an area that was overlooked. If NIU truly wants to increase the number of high achieving students that go here, some of the academic programs need to be revamped in order to offer students a better, more well-rounded education.

Programs need to offer a variety of courses that explore a number of different topics. There are some interesting and unique classes offered here, but there needs to be more. Students probably won’t feel ripped off, like I do now, if each course that they are required to take is an in-depth look at a new topic or at least presents a topic in a new way.