Letters to the Editor

Our Reader: Syracuse University should promote skill, experience-based courses available in College of Arts and Sciences

In 2014, The Atlantic published a study that shows that four of the five most important attributes in employers’ hiring decisions are based on some kind of experience: internships, employment, volunteer experience and extracurricular activities. The notion that you need experience to get the job that you want is not particularly shocking. After all, when you apply for a job, you must submit a resume that describes your skills and your experiences. So why is it then, that colleges are not promoting more skills and experience courses?

Syracuse University is committed to the idea of skills courses but needs to do better. The first goal of the Syracuse University Mission Statement states that the university supports student success by “experiential learning,” but out of my 16 credits this semester, only one class includes hands-on experience related to my career field. As for the rest, they are filled with frivolous academic discussion that will not help me in getting a job. I can’t put “read articles about gender inequality” or “discussed the ‘problem of evil’” on my resume.

Lots of students feel that the classes they are taking are unrelated to their future careers. How many times have you sat in an elective class and questioned what you were getting out of it? With the rising costs of higher education, students would benefit more from spending their time getting a job, acquiring skills, and making money to pay off their debt.

There are, in fact, several “Skills Through Experience” courses in Arts & Sciences that are open to all students — the university just does a very poor job of promoting them. In my opinion, the STEP program is Syracuse University’s best-kept secret. STEP allows students to get credits for valuable experiences rather than take electives that aren’t essential to their education. URP 470 and PAF 410 let students earn academic credits while earning money, and PAF 490 assigns students a research project for a local organization. Through these courses, students can develop skills such as taking responsibility, working directly with people, using quantitative tools and solving problems while also adding real-life work experience to their resumes. It’s a win-win, and it’s tragic that no one knows about these great opportunities.

When you are making your schedule for next semester, consider signing up for a STEP course instead of another pointless elective. For more information on the program, visit skillswin.syr.edu.


Kayla Anderson

Syracuse Class of 2019

Public relations major


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