Discourse / Editorials / April 13, 2016

Editors’ Roundtable: Do we need pre-professional programs?

College is where students find themselves — academically, socially and personally. Following a true liberal arts experience, the various programs on campus listed on the website are: Architecture, Business & Management, Engineering, Environmental Management, Forestry, Law, Medicine, Nursing, Occupational Therapy and Optometry. What is the significance of having pre-professional programs on campus? Do they provide a significant benefit to the campus community? Our editors weigh the pros and cons below.

 

Casey Mendoza, Editor-in-chief

Coming at this topic from the perspective of a multimedia journalist, I understand the need for Casey Mendozapre-professional programs at Knox. For the past three years, I have had to look outside of Knox to learn about new media, videography, documentary film, etc. I’m sure that other students with career-based — rather than academically-based — aspirations have felt the same way. The problem with outside pre-professional programs is cost.

Currently, if students want to pursue pre-professional programs, their options are limited to internships (usually taken during the summer), studying abroad or taking online classes from other institutions. I have done all three of these alternatives, and as great as they were, they all cost extra money, money that not everyone can shell out when they realize that traditional classes at Knox can’t give them what they need. Pre-professional programs on campus would solve this problem, and make skill-based and career-based education more accessible for more students.

 

Tawni Sasaki, Discourse Editor

I think pre-profeTawni webssional programs would be a good addition to Knox, though with some reservations. One of the reasons I came to Knox was to receive a comprehensive education that challenged me in various fields of study, and I worry pre-professional programs would encourage students to take a less diverse selection of courses. Although schools that orient themselves around providing internships pride themselves on providing students with work experience, offering a well-rounded education that prepares students for a variety of jobs might be more beneficial in the long run.

Although there are discussions on adding more of these programs to campus, I think it’s important to make sure the ones we already have are adequately funded. There are several listed on the school website that are no longer available, which makes it seem as if they are haphazardly thrown together as a way to attract a higher quantity of students rather than designed to provide a higher quality education. More than anything, I believe it’s important to have pre-professional programs that mesh student interests and needs with the challenging education that Knox prides itself on.

Callie Rouse, News Editor

Callie RousePre-professional programs have the potential to make Knox more attractive to new students, but I worry how Knox could support these programs alongside the programs Knox has now. What would be sacrificed to make this change? I have enjoyed during my time here the ability to explore different departments and not feel pressed to find a particular route through college. I think that flexibility gives students the chance to combine a wide variety of interests that can be marketable and fruitful in their own right.

That being said, it is obvious this conversation needs to be had. In one of my classes recently, a huge debate emerged over following the traditional liberal arts education versus a more focused, job-oriented education. In a hyper-competitive workforce, students have to prioritize what will get them a job after graduation, and Knox needs to acknowledge this and build students’ skills accordingly.

 

 

Kate Mishkin, Editor-in-Chief

Kate MishkinIn a world where people trade Twitter handles instead of résumés and there seem to be a million more qualified competing against you for jobs, the more prepared we can be for the “real world” the better. Pre-professional programs are a great way to introduce job-specific skills to a liberal arts student. The liberal arts are important. We’re all here to garner holistic skills and learn how to think critically. We learn a lot about a lot of different things, which is really valuable. So why not include pre-professional skills on the long list of things we’re prepared to talk about and debate? Learning skills that will prepare us for the workforce, I believe, is a critical element of the liberal arts experience.

Still, Knox shouldn’t jump the gun on bringing in shiny new programs. It already has a lot of programs that could be improved with more faculty and resources that could — and should — be marketed to prospective students as great opportunities to hone their craft in something specific. But there’s no need to advertise falsely — we need to build on these programs before we bring in any new ones.

TKS Editorial Board

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