Special Report: College students say 'Easy A' courses waste time & money

College students say 'Easy A' courses waste time & money
Davis Kop
Davis Kop
Tiana Orta
Tiana Orta
Patrick Eagle
Patrick Eagle
Catherine Martin
Catherine Martin

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Food and World Culture, Introduction to Art History, Ceramics 100.

Colleges offer a variety of classes and it's no secret on campus there are also courses to pick up an 'Easy A.'

Some students have to take certain classes, while others choose them to perk their grade point average.

"My introduction to theatre class, all we did was play these improv games," said Davis Kop, a junior at Hawaii Pacific University. "It was fun, but I could tell that I just had to show up and it kind of just boosted my gpa."

It takes at least 120 credits to graduate from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and HPU. Both have degree plans requiring general education courses, regardless of major.

Students tell us it's no secret many classes taken simply fill a schedule.

"I did have an art class that was pretty ridiculous when I first started here, but most recently, it was a speech class," HPU graduate student Tiana Orta said. "It was fun, but it definitely had nothing to do with my degree."

Students at Kapiolani Community College can earn degrees by taking classes like Introduction to Color or The History of Surfing.

To fulfill a biological science credit at UH Manoa, students can enroll in Campus Plants, which, according to the school's course catalog, "emphasizes recognition of many of the tropical plants seen on campus."

HPU's catalog features a class called Monsters, Mutants and Aliens that explores "texts about the non-human to articulate ethical questions concerning beliefs about what it means to be a human."

The class satisfies one of the school's 15 general education categories.

Patrick Eagle is an advisor at HPU and says the school's course load is about creating a comprehensive education.

"I don't necessarily know if I would use the word easy, however, I would say that there is a balance," Eagle said. "We want to make sure that if somebody is in liberal arts, that we have them offer a challenging class in the science and conversely, if we have somebody in that sciences and they want to take something that's going to be a little more familiar that we allow a gen ed possibility to create a more balanced schedule for them."

UH-Manoa tries to do the same.

A statement from the University says, "sometimes students may find that a particular set of courses one semester may be more challenging than another set, so our academic advisors work with the students to try to balance the load of courses from one semester to another."

According to a 2012 study, 55% of students graduate from UH-Manoa within six years. Nearly 40% take that long at HPU.

Some feel the filler courses do nothing, but keep them in college longer.

Catherine Martin has worked five years to get her marketing degree and spent her first two years taking required gen ed classes.

"It was mostly just exams and if you passed the exams, you passed the class," said Martin, who is a senior at UH-Manoa. "So it's kind of like, they don't even take attendance. I don't even need to go. I'll just go and learn the materials right before the exam, go pass the exam and then that's it."

More times spent wandering the halls also means more money spent.

According to College Scorecard, annual tuition for an undergraduate student at UH-Manoa is more than $10,000. The average cost for an HPU undergraduate degree is nearly double that.

"We pay for that out of pocket, so definitely a waste of time," Orta said. "Fun, yes, but definitely costs money to have fun here."

Turns out those 'Easy A's' can also teach some tough lessons.

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