Sunday, October 17, 2010

paradoxically speaking

Since starting my counseling program last year, I'm beginning to see various ways in which the systems within the institution in which I work (UC Davis) are completely incongurent with some of the  philosophies I want to embrace as a career counselor. For example, the concept of career exploration is not really an option for students who want to explore the field of design. Many of the undergraduate students I advise are struggling in pre-med or engineering majors and instead want to become Design majors. Yet due to our program being severely impacted already, the only way to enter the major is by taking the gateway class, Introduction to Design and Visual Culture, which is a strictly enforced prerequisite to every other Design class. However, this class is only offered once a year and has a limited number of spots for non-majors once all the incoming Design freshman and junior transfers enroll. This year's waitlist for the class was close to 100 students.....and some of these students are trying for their 3rd year in a row to get in. It truly is a heartwrenching thing to interact with these waitlisted students, many of whom are near tears when they talk with me because they so desperately want to get in and there's not much I can do but suggest they talk to the instructor. They finally feel like they have found a career path to pursue and yet their fate of getting into the major is determined by whether or not they have a good registration time that allows them to enroll in the class before the many others who hope to do the same. It is so hard for me to reconcile the importance of allowing college students to explore different career fields so that they can gain occupational knowledge while at the same time trying to enforce university policies that are in place to try and reduce the number of students in the Design major due to a lack of funding to hire more faculty to teach more Design classes.