Opinion: Journalism grad classes need new scheduling

Every student knows the stress of curating their class schedule every quarter. Some classes you need in order to graduate, others you’re just interested in, but they all feel like they take place at the same time.

Graduate students hope to leave that behind in undergraduate, but at DePaul, finding the right classes can be as stressful as taking the classes.

For a traditional two-year graduate student in the journalism program, they are required to take 12 classes total, which typically means two a quarter. The program has three core classes that students must take to graduate, along with some amazing electives.

However, the way those classes are offered is difficult for journalism graduate students trying to check off every degree requirement while still taking classes that interest them. DePaul should restructure their journalism classes to offer more classes and times to help accommodate graduate students.

The journalism graduate degree has four concentrations – data, multimedia, reporting metro Chicago and sports. Each concentration has its own class requirements, yet many of those classes are only offered one or twice a year.

“The biggest challenge when taking classes is knowing which quarters will have what classes,” sports journalism graduate student Austin Edmonds said.

As a sports journalism student, I am fortunate that a few of these classes are sports-based, yet still wish there were more offered. However, for other students in the journalism program, it might be hard to find other classes that interest them.

“They should definitely have more options for grad students,” journalism graduate student Bailey Curtiss said. “Right now, I’m realizing sports may not be my true passion, and I think I want to work in music journalism. For the [Special Topics in Journalism] classes specifically, I think more if not all of them are sports oriented, and that’s kind of unfair for the people like me who might not want to focus on that topic.”

There are some classes, like the core courses, that are offered every quarter. Students know they will always be offered and don’t have to worry about trying to schedule them into their schedules.

Then, there are other classes that are unique and focus on specific parts of a degree or concentration. Often taught by experts who have jobs in that field, these classes are tailored towards specific topics and concentrations. And yet, it feels like they are offered once or twice and then never seen again.

“I often find that three classes I want to take will all meet on the same exact time slot, and I can only pick one,” journalism graduate student Bailey Curtiss said. “I think classes should have multiple options for time slots, as that was always the case for me during my undergrad time at the University of Cincinnati.”

Part of the reason is probably due to the teachers. Many have full-time jobs and are giving up their time to teach these classes for the quarter. However, it’s not fair for the students who want to take these classes but cannot.

For classes that are offered less regularly, DePaul should consider offering a second time period, so that other students have the chance to take it as well. If a class has done well in the past and shows success, then it should be offered more regularly to give more students a chance to take it instead of a class that they are not as interested in.

Luke Elder may be a digital communication and media arts graduate student, but he has struggled to find classes to take as well and has found himself taking journalism classes outside of his program.

“There are not nearly enough good offerings during the evenings, and I’ve found that it can be somewhat ‘take what you can get,’ which is frustrating as a graduate student,” Elder said. “I’m here to gain a heightened and specific sense of knowledge, not take courses that are unhelpful to my professional studies.”

While graduate classes are scheduled in the evenings to accommodate students who work full-time, there are also classes during the day that graduate students can take. They are mainly made up of undergraduates, with one or two graduate students sprinkled in.

“I think there should be more afternoon options for grad students,” Curtiss said. “I have an afternoon class right now that meets twice a week and [I] love it, but it makes my once-a-week night class feel dragged out and I’m always pretty tired by the end of it.”

However, by only offering these classes during the day, it unfairly takes the opportunity away from graduate students who work full-time and cannot attend. That is why the school should consider offering the class during the day and then a version at night that is tailored for graduate students.

Graduate school classes are all about giving students the extra experience and knowledge in the field that they are interested in entering. By increasing the access and options of classes for graduate students, the students are already being put on a better track towards success.