An open response to Gary Welton: Bro, did you even college?

Megan Osborne, Life! Editor

In Monday’s edition of The Parthenon, Mr. Welton’s column “A challenge to students: Be a full-time student” was published. I have a few disagreements with the content of the column.

First of all, Mr. Welton said the “more mature” student will choose a school with a more difficult curriculum and the “less mature” student will choose the “easier” school. Right. I’m sure money has absolutely nothing to do with that choice. People who can choose schools solely based on the rigor and prestige of the program have privilege that most modern college students don’t possess.

I, for one, would have loved to have gone to Syracuse (ranked #4 journalism program in the country), but that dream was way beyond my reach, so I came to Marshall at 20 percent of the cost of Syracuse’s tuition. Sure, a more “prestigious” (expensive) school would have looked better on a resume, but here I’m getting the education that I need to thrive in my field.

Second of all, Mr. Welton suggests students are not spending enough time on school-related work to be prepared for the real world, the main root of his argument. He suggests “only 29 hours per week” spent on class and studying isn’t good enough, and “taxpayers are not getting the level of academic commitment they are paying for.” I would really like to know how Mr. Welton handled college, because that just doesn’t sound reasonable. I’m willing to argue most college students spend way more time being productive than he thinks.

It’s not just class time and study time you have to calculate to classify a full-time student. Extracurricular activities, workshops, resume builders… they’re all part of the college experience, and they all take chunks of time from the week. So does work study, being involved with student media, doing research with professors and acting in a leadership role in a student organization, all of which are great hands-on experience no amount of classwork or studying can teach.

The same goes for part-time jobs and living on your own. Learning how to manage expenses and take care of yourself are two things that encompass a wide range of stuff that most people don’t really understand until they’re out of the house. College is a great place to learn these things because you have the time to do so.

How are students expected to spend a full 40 hours per week on only class and studying when they have all of that to balance?

Full-time learning and full-time working are two completely different animals. When you’re learning, you are attempting to cram all of this stuff from different subjects into your brain and keep it there. At your job, you are using the information you already know to accomplish tasks. Not saying people don’t learn anything new when they get a job, but it is much less intense than trying to absorb all the information college requires. You probably won’t exhaust your brain in much the same way at a job.

Even though I don’t personally know of anyone who has nothing to do outside of strict schoolwork, I am sure they are out there. Mr. Welton is mostly addressing these few and far between individuals, but he does hold the same 40 hour per week standards to everyone else. The students who don’t have anything to do outside of class and some studying do not get the same experience as those who do, and I completely agree with Welton in this regard. The thing is, these people rarely even make it through the college program to begin with. I agree with Welton’s proposition that being a full-time student is a privilege, especially if there is parental financial support, and the opportunity should be taken advantage of in full.

Being a college student is supposed to be a part-time job so you can learn about who you are as a person and figure out what you want to do with your life. It’s a time for exploration. Learning is not limited to the classroom. The time spent outside of class and studying is spent learning, whether it’s how to manage your own expenses and how to cook for yourself or writing for the school newspaper and acting as a representative in the student government. Learning that relaxation and fun are important is a huge life lesson that most students will learn the hard way at some point, and one many hard-working adults need to revisit. The whole thing is a learning experience, and really, we’re putting effort in to learning way more than 40 hours a week.

I challenge my fellow students to count up just how many hours a week they spend learning, whether it be in the classroom or out.

I challenge Mr. Welton to think about how he spent his college career and remember all the life experiences he gained as a result.

Megan Osborne can be contacted at [email protected].