Friday, April 2, 2010

They're dropping like flies

At the start of the semester there were 20 students in my apparel construction class. Six are majoring in education, one in business, and the rest in apparel design. One of the apparel design students dropped the class a few weeks ago after realizing that sewing was not for her. Another apparel design student plans to finish the class, but she will be changing her major. I do not know how many people have dropped out of my textiles class, but last week the woman I sit next to in lab told me that next semester she will be transferring to another school where she will major in something that has nothing whatsoever to do with the fashion industry. Students who were here last semester have told me that it is rare for only two students to give up on apparel design after taking the apparel construction class; usually five or more drop out.

There are usually about 200 students majoring in apparel design at my school, but on average only 30 earn a degree each year. There are a lot of people who drop this major after or during their first year. I knew my major had a high attrition rate, but I do not enjoy watching it happen. I love what I am studying and doing, and I wish others did too. Some of my classmates share my passion for the work, but others seem overwhelmed and dismayed. I think their expectations for the program were misguided. A lot of students seemed to expect the glamour of high fashion they see in magazines and on TV, and did not think they would have to do any real work. I try to help and encourage my classmates, but for some of them this just is not the right field.

High school seniors who are considering attending Stout to major in apparel design have been visiting my apparel construction class. We try to make the class look fun, but I hope they also see that it is a lot of hard work. Last week six prospective students watched as we struggled, and often failed, to make pants pockets.

Apparel design can be a fun and rewarding major, but it is not necessarily easy. Hard work and long hours are required. Realistic expectations and a passion for the work are required to do will in this major.

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