Field trips can be educational but inconvenient

Problems arise when professors don’t adequately account for their students’ schedules

The stress over missing a class can override the benefit of class trips. Illustration: Tiffany Chan/The Peak

By: Tiffany Chang, Peak Associate

There’s no doubt that field trips can be enriching experiences for students; I myself got to experience virtual reality because of a field trip. Students can learn and interact with one another outside of the classroom while observing how the concepts taught in class are practiced in the real world. While I wholeheartedly appreciate instructors taking the time to organize these trips, it’s unfair, however, that some students must miss other classes or important obligations in order to attend them.

Depending on the location of the trip, students who have only 10 minutes between classes on a field trip day may need to skip the class that overlaps with the travel time needed. This can cause problems if attendance and/or lateness count towards a student’s final mark.

And even if a student manages to get an excused absence for an overlap, mandatory field trips entail missing out on what students could learn in their other classes. Students shouldn’t, under any circumstances, need to compromise learning the material in certain class(es) to enhance others. Being placed in this situation essentially forces students to prioritize one class over another — a choice no student should have to make when they’ve spent a pretty penny on all of their courses. 

Don’t get me wrong: it understandably makes the most sense to arrange school outings during designated class hours. A hypothetical situation wherein a class collectively attempts to figure out the most convenient time for everyone would surely be a hassle — especially for professors. Additionally, most trips are currently scheduled several weeks in advance. In our hypothetical situation, even if a convenient time is eventually determined, it may be too late to book the tours, space, etc.

An unlikely but potentially feasible way to select a suitable time for a field trip would be for the professor to propose the idea at the very beginning of the semester for a field trip near the conclusion of the semester. This could allow students to discuss appropriate timing, and arrive at a workable consensus. 

Perhaps a fairer and practical situation would be to simply make class trips optional for those who have classes with the potential to interfere with them. Regardless, professors who want to incorporate field trips into their agenda should seriously consider class schedules and at least try to work around students’ different class schedules before booking them.