March, April, May: the spring semester is coming to a rapid end and the time for course registration is upon us. Another term where we must face the challenges of schedule accommodation for our institution as we attempt to meet their demanding prerequisite requirements. These prerequisites are often topics that are not of interest to us and are typically seen as a means to an end.
As irrelevant as these courses may be, they are highly publicized and promoted by the university. Everyone is familiar with classes that meet our WQB requirements, regardless of their minimal appeal. What is not advertised, though, are directed study course opportunities.
As students who are supposedly “engaging the world,” we need to be aware of opportunities that encourage us to take education into our own hands and be given the opportunity to resist the conformity of a conventional university classroom.
Directed studies are available in every department that I have researched. English, education, business, sciences, and mathematics all allow for these opportunities. They are typically accessible for third- and fourth-year undergraduate students.
Yet when students register for their courses, directed studies have a minimal course description that make them seem confusing and unappealing. SFU describes these courses as “independent reading or research in topics selected in consultation with the supervising instructor.” Snooze.
Perhaps this ambiguity is due to the university’s concerns with the quick success of too many students. While SFU encourages academic success, it also encourages students ‘take time’ to complete their education. Under the regular class-structured system, students are more likely to experience less success, which in turn may set back the amount of time it takes to complete their education and allow the institution financial gain.
They leave room for creativity and independence, so a student can succeed in all courses.
Directed studies, on the other hand, are geared toward what the student is interested in learning. They leave room for creativity and independence, and with this added motivation, a student can succeed in all of his or her directed studies courses.
This semester I had the privilege to partake in an empowering directed study within the Faculty of Education. I have been able to take control of my own education by reading articles that are important to me. My particular directed study meets once a week in the Highland Pub, where we discuss social issues in education. We also have the opportunity to mentor students during office hours, a deeply engaging educational experience.
I have the freedom to choose what I study and eventually compile a final project that is useful and relevant, rather than an academic paper that will only see the recycling bin.
I have never been so impassioned by a course in the five years that I have been a student at this institution. Directed studies provide a much-needed escape from the monotony and stress of regular coursework. I recommend them to all students at SFU.