Why Your Degree Program Should Be More Like The Biggest Loser

Now in its 12th season, NBC's hit reality series 'The Biggest Loser' pits individuals wanting to lose weight against each other in a competition. While it might seem like there's no way the show's model could translate to the world of higher education, there actually are some aspects that just might be beneficial in degree programs.

By Jessica Lyons


Picking Who You Work With

As the show starts, the contestants of The Biggest Loser compete in a challenge to determine the order in which they'll be able to select their trainer. Getting first choice of who will train them can be important, since they're more likely to do well with a trainer whose personality and style is similar to their own. Similarly, it's important for students to be able to take classes with professors who teach in a way the students feel comfortable learning from. When it comes time to register for classes, then, degree programs should give students a choice of professors rather than just forcing them to study with a particular one.

An Emphasis on Teamwork

Throughout the show's history contestants have worked in teams. This isn't just a tactic that can help motivate people wanting to lose weight; students could also benefit from working in teams as their classmates encourage them to do well on assignments and even learn concepts that they might at first find difficult to understand. Being able to work in a team is also an important skill that students need to develop since many careers will require them to collaborate with a diverse group of people.

Rewarding the Hardest Workers

Each week on The Biggest Loser someone gets sent home, and ideally that's the person who puts in the least amount of effort. As the number of participants decreases, the health and fitness experts can focus more on those working the hardest to help them more thoroughly. Even if you can't exactly vote students out of your class (no matter how much you might want to), it might be beneficial for professors to have a similar system of rewarding the students who put the most energy into their studies, such as through an educational trip or by hosting a special discussion where those students can access more of their professors' knowledge by asking questions they might not be able to during classes.

Developing Skills for Life

The Biggest Loser contestants have the chance to gain healthy eating habits and exercise knowledge throughout the competition that can benefit them many years after their time on the show has ended. Just as the show is about far more than using skills only in the moment, a degree program has to be about more than just gaining enough knowledge to pass one class at a time. Instead, it should always focus on giving students abilities that they can use throughout their entire lives, whether in their careers or in their personal endeavors.

While some shows could be good for higher education to take notes from, others are definitely not. One professor has found himself in a real life 'Breaking Bad' situation.

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