WQB requirements are pointless

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]QB — writing, quantitative, breadth. Since I began at SFU in 2012, I have spent way too much time investing, financially and otherwise, in classes that have had nothing to do with my degree, my interests, or my academic skill.

These classes are supposed to make for ‘well-rounded’ students, but I’m not convinced that thet have been anything other than a massive waste of my time. In total, these requirements amount to 10 additional classes over the course of our studies — sometimes you luck out and a class just so happens to be a part of your degree program, but for the most part, we get screwed by these requirements. Ten courses, after all, amounts to over two full semesters’ worth of extra school, and can cost upwards of a few thousand dollars.

I have slogged through earth sciences and kinesiology, almost ripped my hair out taking archeology, and cried myself to sleep for fourth months as I pushed myself through a Canadian history class. None of these classes led to a newfound interest in the given field, nor did they make me appreciate these subjects any more than I already did. The fact of the matter is that I would have rather explored different subjects on my own terms, without worrying that I was falling out of compliance with my graduation requirements.

SFU has built its reputation on being the a comprehensive university with diverse faculties, but there is fine line between being well-rounded, and stretching your studies too far over a variety of unrelated fields. Truth be told, there are plenty of unique courses at SFU that I am way more interested in than an introduction to some science topic, but I’m not going to have time to explore those subjects because of the amount of time I spent fulfilling my WQB requirements.

All of us are adults who should be allowed to have full control over our studies. If someone wants to solely focus on computer science, then that’s their prerogative. To force an academic interest where it does not exist is a waste of time, energy, and money. In herds, students consistently enroll in what has been deemed “a good science class for an arts student,” but what does that even mean?

I imagine having massive groups of students enrol in a class solely because it has been deemed an ‘easy science credit’ is a massive inconvenience for those registered who are actually invested in that subject matter. I simply can’t contribute to a conversation the same way a student who is passionate in that subject can.

When I took BPK 110, I only met one kinesiology student over the course of the semester. One. The rest of us were there only to complete our WQB requirements. I can’t imagine having to be a prof or a TA in a class where 90 per cent of the students are only there to check off a box on their transcript. I will be the first to admit that I don’t try as hard in my WQB classes, because I am simply uninterested and unmotivated.

Having huge swaths of students who are, without a doubt, more apathetic towards the subject creates a less desirable classroom atmosphere and more work for the educators, since they constantly have to help bridge the materials for students from other departments. Honestly, everyone walks away a winner when you let students decide what they should study.



  1. I agree that a class full of people who have no interest in learning is pretty boring, but if all you want is a beeline to a job, go to BCIT. I majored in English and Biology at different times (and minored in humanities) and the arts people hated science and the science people hated the arts. By choice, I took courses outside my requirements: archeology, ancient Greek, women’s studies, humanities, Eastern religion, psychology. Let me tell you, I learned to write! The point of a university education is to expose yourself to ideas. You need to welcome the opportunities to discover in university. After all, you’ll spend the rest of your life surrounded by people with small minds full of even smaller ideas. Take the time to wrestle with philosophy, physics, women’s studies and Western civilization. I know it sucks that the price has soared since I started, but what is rare is most valuable and that’s what you will be when you are able to open your mind to the world of ideas.
    –Peter Francis BA (Hons English 1987), BEd (minor Environmental Education 2005), Post Bach (Special Education 2011).

    • His closing statement was to “let students decide what they should study.” Why can’t we expose ourselves to ideas while maintaining some control? Furthermore, What do you mean when you say that all we want is a “beeline to a job” we go to BCIT, is it as if to say you aren’t interested in getting a job? The fact is that those two semesters saved, or rather, a lighter course load over the program length would greatly help exactly the exposing to ideas that you value. When you have so many courses, or rather, so little time, it’s more difficult to really engage in each subject. After all, we all need that 4.00 gpa. Ive taken a semester only taking two courses, and the level of involvement in the courses, and engagement while learning was something that will never be replicated in a semester with 4-5 courses.

      It’s worth considering: If University is for educating, and opening up your mind (as you believe), it seems like the current requirements are hardly fostering that with course loads.