No doubt the previous week was a chaotic tumble into the expectations and rules of each class for you. Such are the bitter joys of syllabus week. Don’t get me wrong—I appreciate the effort professors expend in reviewing the syllabus, as I would be utterly lost without it, but it’s the reviewing of the science syllabus that often leaves me with a sour tang in my head. After all, science classes aren’t simply lectures—they often have a discussion and a lab component accompanying them as well. And it is the collection of these requirements for a single class that leaves science majors frazzled, anxious, and bereft of the opportunities available to other majors.
One need only look at a GPA comparison for the tale detailing the science major reality. Science majors have an average GPAs that is lower than any other, with chemistry reportedly being the lowest, according to Prepscholar (1). With the exorbitant amount of requirements that go into a final grade, from assignments and exams, this is unsurprising. It’s not just three papers and attendance that comprise the grade, as many of the political science classes do. Science classes include weekly homework, pre-lecture quizzes, lab reports, lab attendance, lab conduct, discussion homework, discussion attendance, exams, SI lectures, and of course, the dreaded OWL. It often feels like a tumbling whirlwind where nothing ever seems absolute, with one assignment chasing another.
I understand that science is heavy, exponential and the material, while extensive, is often essential to mastering the course. But does there truly need to be such a glaring disparity between science and liberal arts? Because there has to be one; while people may say this is a result of the difference in studies, and that biology would, of course, be much more extensive than international relations, I believe there has to be some solution to the roughly-paced, diurnal courses of science. Because while the material we may be learning is important, it is the constant expectation without room to breathe that gives us so much anxiety. More than once, I’ve found myself overwhelmed with what needs to be done, my breaths skipping oxygen, and my hands tripping around, unable to lie still.
Science majors are also often bereft of opportunities. Such is the case with organization excursions or study abroad. I cannot take a semester in Paris so easily as liberal arts majors. I have to consider my graduate plan, or whether the credits would be acceptable to the medical school I am interested in. My presence in the lab is a must for my grade, and so I cannot simply ensconce to New York City for a journalism conference. It’s a reality no stranger to science majors. You’re not allowed to miss an exam under any circumstance. Your only option to attend the conference is to miss the lab. Well thanks, that’s fifty points off my final grade. Do you think I’d be fool enough to take it?
I am calling for a reorganization of the system built in for science majors. I am calling for a bridge between the gap that reveals the disparate lies between CSM and CLA. It is high time we stop punishing science majors for being science majors. And it is about time we cease our complacency with the brutal pace science majors undergo.