“Weed-out” classes cut out students’ goals

Emily Johnston, Opinion Columnist

Valentina Czochanski

On Oct. 28, popular Instagram account uvmbathrooms posted an opinion on the STEM classes at UVM.

STEM students, those in science, technology, engineering and math, all must pass sets of classes for their major that are required prerequisites.

These classes are known among students and faculty as “weed-out” classes because they are notorious for being so difficult that they cause many students to switch majors.

uvmbathrooms argues that STEM classes cause too much stress, can tank GPAs and can give professors too much power in deciding the futures of students.

I agree with their argument.While it is important to challenge students, weed-out classes cause countless students to lose all hope in their dream career.

Instead of engaging with the material in ways that help them learn, STEM students instead become stressed to the point of tears.

Passing one class can mean the difference between students continuing their desired degree or having to switch majors.

Since these classes are required, failing them sets students behind in their program or even force them to drop the program.

They’re especially stressful when considering that weed-out classes can often be the reason why students lose scholarships that keep them at UVM.

UVM’s out-of-state tuition is $41,280, according to Student Financial Services’ website. And the majority of UVM students are out-of-state, according to the University website.

For many UVM academic scholarships, students must keep a certain GPA in order to receive their funding.

Taking multiple weed-out classes can stress students even more who are on the border of losing their scholarships.

For these students, passing the class is how they continue to afford UVM tuition.

The most notable weed-out course at UVM is general chemistry.

This course spans two semesters, with Chem 31 and 32 being the for-majors option.

Chemistry professor Erik Ruggles’ students created their own slogan, “struggles with Ruggles.” Let me tell you, the struggles are real.

I took general chemistry as a first-year, the norm for most STEM students, so I know how stressful the class is.

I used to spend 72 hours minimum studying for the exams, missing out on social events in order to study.

Despite countless hours of studying and practice, I still got 60% to 70% on the exams.

This sounds like a bad score, and it is, but it was around average.

Tests were not curved, but at the end of the semester, my final grade was about half a letter grade higher in the gradebook than it was averaged out.

The system needs to be fixed. Weed-out classes are not the way to prove competence.

Education’s purpose is not to create barriers for students to fight. If a class structure is built to fail students, it needs revision.

That is why uvmbathrooms is right – weed-out classes are awful.