Do “Weed-Out” Classes Make any Sense?

by Taylor Johnson

Weed-out classes are something many students have faced at one point or another. However, some believe they still serve a purpose. In this article, Adams argues points that many of us likely agree with, that weed-out courses are used as intimidating tactics for freshman students who are just getting used to the college experience and that they discourage students from high-demand STEM careers that we need more people to pursue. ¬†Adams also references how these types of classes impact minorities, saying a recent survey found that half of the science chairs at various universities believe weed-out classes are discouraging women and minorities from entering STEM-based careers. Given all of these terrible aspects of these types of courses, they prevail in almost all universities. While I understand they are used to make sure the people entering these careers are qualified, it seems that these courses are actually pushing people away, and making students feel inadequate in careers they could be a good fit for. This makes me wonder, is there a way we can still have challenging courses without them having the stigma of being a weed-out course? Or will any hard class with high fail rates achieve this title, making them simply inevitable with “harder” programs?