Opinion | University of Iowa students benefit from future readiness

University of Iowa courses like Working for Social Justice should be required.


Daniel McGregor-Huyer

The Old Capitol is pictured on April 14, 2022.

Naomi Rivera Morales, Opinions Columnist

The future should be on the forefront of students’ minds.

At the University of Iowa, there are endless resources for career help, such as the Pomerantz Career Center. However, most students do not have the time or awareness to take advantage of this help.

The UI should not focus only on academia. Undergraduate students need support and guidance outside college life as well. UI courses like Working for Social Justice should be required of all students to jump-start thinking about life after graduation.

According to the Pomerantz Career Center, 95 percent of UI students are employed six months after graduation. The average debt for a 4-year bachelor’s degree in the U.S. after graduation is $34,100, according to the Education Data Initiative.

The state Board of Regents 2022 financial aid report revealed that 2.2 percent of UI graduates fail to pay their student loans three years after graduation.

Because most students will leave the UI in debt, students should be aware of the importance of being well-prepared for the working world.

Undergraduate students need career help for a variety of reasons to successfully pay off debt and earn a steady wage. Though we learn a great deal throughout our university years, there is more to know than sole knowledge in academia.

Professor Teresa Mangum is the course instructor for Working for Social Justice at the UI. In an email to The Daily Iowan, Mangum emphasized the benefits offered by the course.

“This course helps students translate the value of their education and experience into terms that future employers can understand,” Mangum wrote. “Together they learn by doing — helping one another explain how a class in literature or human rights provides concepts, contents, and skills that will enrich any workplace.”

At the beginning of last semester, I decided to enroll in Working for Social Justice. At the time, I was unsure about the paths pertaining to my major and how to best approach job markets. As an English and creative writing major, career questions and concerns are common.

During the semester, I learned how to connect and communicate with others and how to present myself to employers. I gained valuable perspectives and skill sets for numerous career fields. In just a few months, I learned more about myself and my goals for the future.

Toward the end of the semester, we worked on career guides as a final project. In these career guides, topics included jumpstart information on Art and Social Justice, Violence Prevention and Victim Advocacy, LGBTQ+ Advocacy, Child Welfare, Environmental Justice, and several others that allow students to learn about whichever field best suits their interests.

Courses like Working for Social Justice should become a general education requirement in all UI schools. This course is beneficial for any student, no matter their major or career path.

If it were required during a student’s first year, I believe they could avoid the questions and concerns about the future that worry most students.

The UI does try to prepare students for the future with initiatives like the On Iowa! orientation program for undergraduate students. On Iowa! allows students the time to meet other students, learn Hawkeye traditions, explore organizations, and learn how to best excel in their chosen courses and majors.

Though this is an excellent addition to the curriculum, students still need more to grab a hold of.

As I approach the second semester of my third year, I feel more prepared and more confident for what lies ahead. Requiring students to think about the future today will help them in their futures tomorrow.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.