Everyone remembers where they were when their adviser told them, “we call it a certificate here.”
I sure remember where I was.
It was in Signe Skott Cooper Hall, and my cool adviser Molly crushed my dreams and confused the hell out of me when she said the University of Wisconsin doesn’t offer a Spanish certificate. I thought to myself — okay, ouch, but also, what?
I remember what happened after that, too. It was my first break back home, it was Thanksgiving and the possibilities were endless. I was in my friend’s living room, and we were trading our somewhat-unattainable college goals. But suddenly, someone asked me what my minor was. Before I could open my mouth to answer, my other friend said, “they call it a certificate there.”
Have you ever felt cast aside? Have you ever felt different? Because in that moment I felt the pressure of Becky’s little hands forcing a uniqueness on me I didn’t ask for. Why that word, UW? Why? It’s not even better.
The word certificate straight up does not sound college related. When people hear that word, they think of a piece of paper — like a participation award, for like, I don’t know, Lego League.
Fifteen to twenty credit hours spent on a field of study, reduced to the equivalent of what you get when you pass a level in swimming class. And for what? To be different? To be special? Women didn’t break the glass ceiling for this.
Anyway, I should address the white elephant in the room. I’m not a freshman. But, I came up with all of these thoughts since I set foot on this campus — I just didn’t have the courage to say something at such a young age. But now I do.
On behalf of all freshmen, I will say you need one thing at the beginning of college. It’s not stability. It’s the need to go to school at a better place than your high school friends.
Oh, you go to Michigan and you’re minoring in dance? You go to Northwestern and minor in French? That’s so cool. I go to UW, and I have a certificate in wishing I could remove myself from this situation because it’s embarrassing.
The audacity of whatever administration had this thought to not keep the idea in the confines of their own head astounds me. This is affecting thousands of students, and they don’t even know it. Like not in a big way obviously, but big enough, y’know?
Obviously, the bigger implication of using this term is setting a precedent for assigning unbalanced synonyms. The term “minor” has years of use — it draws the connotation of academia and respect, and it implies knowledge and skill. “Certificate” does not do the same thing, and that’s just a fact.
Like any good journalist, I will address my biases explicitly right now — I genuinely don’t have any.
So that’s it for listing the things that could potentially invalidate this argument, it’s unbreachable.
How to fix this issue? Switch the name, simple as that.
And that is my article on why we should make a change to a very small — but intensely annoying — feature of school. Thank you for your time, and please share this with your family and friends. They need to know we had no part in this decision and that we don’t like it either.