Internships allow college students the opportunity to learn in an authentic and challenging environment. Firsthand experience, whether at Walmart headquarters or a local adoption agency, provides time for interns to build relationships and make contacts for future work opportunities.
Priceless as internships may seem, however, we at The Threefold Advocate believe that the internship requirements at John Brown University should be re-examined. For some, the three-hour credit course required—or strongly suggested—in their major is a logical and effective way to meet credit requirements for graduation. Yet, for others who take 18 or more hours each semester to try and complete multiple areas of study, the addition of a three-hour class will push them over the regular credit limit. Meaning that extra money is coming out of their already tight pockets.
Taking into account that many internships are unpaid, this seems even more of an unfair expense for a class that does not meet.
We understand the reasoning behind the current setup: the class needs to be taken seriously and students held accountable. In addition, the professors who spend precious time grading reports and debriefing students need to be compensated. Here, we would suggest a compromise.
What if the class was offered at multiple credit-hour levels? That way, those who need the three hours of credit to graduate can do so without penalizing those students with a heavier load. Understandably, measures would have to be taken to ensure that students taking the internship class for one or two hours of credit receive the same benefits and experience as their counterparts. Perhaps the option to take it for less than three would only be available to those students in certain circumstance.
What is important is that the discussion begins, and that students who already have a lot on their plates are not forced to pay extra for what is (in most cases) an off-campus experience.