As the crippling cold temperatures give way to a more balmy—yet very much still wet—Portland spring, students emerge from the shadows of busy schedules to take on a minor in a different subject.
VANGUARD EDITORIAL: Minor threat
As the crippling cold temperatures give way to a more balmy—yet very much still wet—Portland spring, students emerge from the shadows of busy schedules to take on a minor in a different subject. Just as the season of love and companionship between all of Earth’s creatures begins, so do students’ love affairs with new and exciting degree choices. O, what twitterpation in the air as science students embark on journeys to add humanities components to their studies and vice versa. Indeed, as the saying goes, it is spring where the university studies showers bring May flowers.
Unfortunately for students, Portland State has chosen once again to make certain academic pathways completely impassable. To keep complete linearity with our spring analogy, PSU is dangling a carrot just out of reach of the student body, and it comes in the form of minor degrees.
As most may know, minors are the little brother of the reason most of us are here—the major. Many of us take on minors to “play the field” upon completing school. Others may chase a minor because of a genuine interest in the subject that deviates from a primary course of study. Whatever the reason, minors are offered in every nook and cranny of PSU’s website and paperwork; but are they as available as PSU’s lore would have us believe?
To answer that question, it is necessary to break down PSU’s degree structure. Of all the majors offered at PSU, 36 are also available as minors. Because classes that support majors are generally well looked-after where availability is concerned, one must look at the flipside of this statistic; PSU offers 25 minors of which there are no major equivalents.
As of fall 2010, enrollment at PSU is up—2.5 percent from the previous year—from 24,580 students to 25,213 [Vanguard, “Record amount of students attend OUS schools,” Oct. 15, 2010]. Assuming that these 633 new students all wish to pursue a minor, this adds about 10 students to each minor itinerary in an environment that is already fiercely competitive.
Anyone who’s tried to register for classes lately will tell you, with no shortness of chagrin, that it’s tough out there in cyberspace. Certain classes that are essential to obtain minors often fill up before the students who need them are able to register. Oftentimes, students registering for these classes are seniors with credits to burn, who have no affiliation with the minor pathway.
Anecdotally, as a college publication, we feel the need to inform budding young writers that the Professional Writing minor that PSU offers is something of a pipe dream. Of the four courses offered specifically in that field, a student hoping to pursue that minor needs to complete three of the courses. Two of them, “Beginning Nonfiction Writing” and “Introduction to News Writing,” are readily available. The other two are never available. “Advanced News Writing” has been cancelled twice in the last year. “News Editing” hasn’t been offered since most of us have been in school. None of the three news-related courses are offered this spring.
If these hindrances weren’t enough, many classes necessary for minors are offered in prohibitively tiny class sizes or only one section per term. We dare those below senior standing trying to get a minor in graphic design to successfully register for a typography class. They’ll never make it in. Similarly, hats off to those who can finagle a spot in the screenwriting course without being up at 8 a.m. on the first day of registration.
Inconveniences aside, it is no wonder many students take over the traditional four-year time frame to get through college. A student attending PSU will have to wait until the university decides to offer the classes needed.
It is also understandable that from the university’s perspective, demand for courses and minors can fluctuate. It can be difficult to firmly offer some minors when there is no guarantee they will be cost effective. But while this is a reasonable notion, the university should not advertise, promote or encourage minors that can’t be backed up.
Virginia Vickery Editor-in-Chief Corie Charnley News Editor
Nicholas Kula Arts & Culture Editor Richard Oxley Opinion Editor
Robert Britt Sports Editor Kristin Pugmire Copy Chief