As students across the country prepare to return to school, those students attending Smallish College should be a little happier. “Coursework and personal relationships consistently appeared in our surveys as the top two sources of student stress,” says the college’s Acting Assistant Interim Dean of Student Social Services Felicity Fellowes. “We realized we couldn’t control who students socialized with, but that we could control the coursework. So we got rid of it.”
Indeed, students at Smallish College can now devote themselves to the gym, social media, extracurricular activities, and those troublesome personal relationships. “By being freed up to focus on their own well-being and relationships,” adds Fellowes, “we really expect to see stress levels come down and leadership skills to go way up.”
The end of coursework also permits Smallish College to save millions of dollars that would otherwise go to faculty salaries. That money can be invested in more amenities as well as more administrators. These personnel have become crucial guardians of student satisfaction, which is especially important as a recruitment tool in the current demographic slump and amid concerns about the cost of college. Fellowes explains, “Students really need to know what they are paying for at the end of the day.”
Not everyone is happy with the change. Former English professor Bartholomew Rigidson, who received his termination July 1, says, “I’m a little sad to see the students stop learning in the classroom entirely, but honestly, that simply culminates a long trend.” He went from assigning 12 books a semester in 1992 to just two last year for his Survey of American Novels, though he admits students have a lot more competing options for fun and connections than he ever had.
Rigidson also sees a silver lining in his new job stocking shelves at Target: “It gives me a lot more time to think. Besides, I no longer have to read student evaluations that talk about my teeth or my favorite sweater, and there’s not this parallel, even meaner version called ‘Rate My Stockroom Employee.’”
Now, however, students at Smallish College might have the time and happiness to create exactly that.