I've been thinking a lot lately about the state of Louisiana's higher education. We seem to have no money anymore, which can only mean that the quality of degrees could soon be slipping.
Let's look at LSU for example. Class sizes are doubling if not tripling. Some classes are no longer on offer each semester. We're losing some creative instructors. Does this mean that finishing a degree course in a four-year time frame may soon be a thing of the past?
I went to LSU, and am proud of what that degree means. I graduated long, long ago, longer than I'd like to mention, and my fellow graduates and I held our degrees in the highest of esteem. We graduated from LSU. We rocked. You know, Geaux Tigers and all that.
I feel sorry for the kids there now, especially the freshmen. With so few classes now on offer, how are they meant to really know what it is they want to do with their lives? How are they meant to know what they should be majoring in?
When I was at LSU, times were golden. We took elective after elective, which gave us the opportunity to really find our niche. I didn't instantly know I wanted to be a writer. There was no moment when the heavens shined down upon me, and my mind was made up. No, I was given the freedom to find that out for myself.
I took a journalism class with Jim Featherstone. Now that was an elective I chose well. He was a laugh a minute, and felt the need to go on and on about something mysteriously called a coo coo cake, but I digress. He had been a journalist in Dallas when Kennedy was assassinated, and listening to him tell tales of investigation and sources really fired me up. Without that flexibility in my schedule, I never would have known I had the passion or the drive or the talent to write. Without that class, I could now be doing something I love nowhere near as much as the career path I've chosen.
LSU is still a good school, don't get me wrong. I worry, though, that it's no longer great. I worry that the seeming lack of care for the quality of the institution will send the university on a steady decline.
There's got to be more to LSU than football. Even top Tigers are leaving before degree completion to test the waters all on their own. There just doesn't seem to be the desire there once was.
Maybe the new kids are disillusioned. It must be difficult to feel a love for your university when it's constantly being portrayed negatively in the press. Maybe the new kids are fed up. Trying to register for a class that is no longer available or is full can only be a nightmare.
One thing's for certain. We need to get LSU back again. We need to have that honor associated with the institution as a whole. Not simply when we get into a bowl game.
I love LSU. I want my school back.