Should students have the option for a more practical life skills class at SMC?
Image c/o Saint Mary's College
By Lillian La Salle
Culture Section Editor/Visiting Opinion Columnist
Saint Mary’s is one of the few schools on the West Coast to offer a seminar course which some students adore and others despise. It's understandable to dislike seminar, especially if you had a subpar teacher who didn't know how to get that one kid with a few too many opinions to read the room and finally stop talking. We’ve all been there. Luckily, for the rising sophomores and future Gaels, they only need to take 3 seminars instead of 4. However, these core classes take up a lot of SMC credits that could go to taking some much-needed courses in the upper division major requirements.
What if instead of having us take one of these courses and learn not one, not two, but 5 or more different philosophical concepts that are too dense for any sane person to understand, we learned about some necessary skills that would help us after college?
What if instead of having multitudes of extra career courses, financial planning, and mental health gatherings, SMC actually put its efforts into creating a student improvement course to replace one of the seminars?
After two seminars, the whole reading and discussion with your fellow peers who probably also didn't do the reading becomes very repetitive, and our time could be spent learning about what an ROI and 401K are, or how to not get conned when we have to take out more student loans to continue to go to SMC. Don't get me wrong, I love seminars and think that we learn very valuable communication and close reading skills in this context, but like I said earlier, how different will our third or fourth seminar be from our first or second? Meanwhile, we are floundering after college to try to invest in the right accounts so we can possibly support our family, buy a house, and pay for our kids' college, even though these three goals seem mutually exclusive nowadays.
We need to learn not only about the great texts but about what life experiences have shaped us as humans and what we don't like about ourselves and what we want to change about ourselves. SMC is good at shaping our identities in a very hands-on way, but it causes students immense stress to cope with self-discovery, friends, academics, activities, and all the other programs we need to complete in order to be eligible candidates for a successful career in the future. We can't be left on our own to fit all the important parts of adulthood into the cracks of the already bursting schedule filled with parents, advisors, and friends' expectations of us. We need the seminar to become a course that helps students understand how to lead a productive and successful life after college and gives them all the proper financial and social skills we need to know how to use in order to accomplish our goals.
Madison Sciba '24,