Gen eds. For a lot of us, just the thought of them is enough to heighten our pre-college anxiety. They're the math classes that arts major have to take, or the Spanish classes that math majors have to take. They are apparently meant to "expand our minds" and "broaden our horizons," but they constitute roughly four semesters of most college students' education, and they are not the classes that we will come out remembering. So why are we all required to take them?
College is expensive. I'm sure that we all are aware of that, but when we pay for college, shouldn't we be paying to learn skills that will benefit us in our chosen field? Taking only three to four major classes in those first two years of college means that the money you're spending is not going towards your future. It's going towards learning things that you may not be particularly interested in. In addition, there has recently been an increase in students who take more than four years to graduate college. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, I believe that a lot more students would graduate on time if the first two years could be spent in their major classes.
At colleges like the University of Rochester, students are able to design their own general curriculum according to their personal interests. If we are required to take general education classes, why not follow their example, allowing students to at least take classes that will benefit them personally. By doing this, the University of Rochester is monopolizing on the opportunity to truly give their students an education that is tailored to them individually. You may have also heard about Brown University's notorious Open Curriculum, which permits students to take classes outside of their major, without any formal set of requirements or boxes to check. At both of these schools, students have the opportunity to "broaden their horizons," but in a way that makes sense to them. They are able to take classes that are relevant and interesting to them, and because of that, they are motivated to do well.
The skeptic may mention how gen eds can help with other classes that you take later on, and I agree with that. To a certain degree, it is important that we build up our writing skills when we leave high school. A lot of college is writing papers and reports, so I can see how a few introductory English courses could be useful. However, when they throw a Foreign Language, Math, Science, Arts, Humanities and other courses at you, the classes become less beneficial and more of a filler space for those first two years.
This fall, many of our schedules will be filled with general education courses, and though nothing will likely change in the four years we will be in college, we can only hope that in the future, more universities will choose to switch a more flexible general education model. I believe that the Open Curriculum truly is the future of higher education, and cannot wait to see more universities adopt it in the coming years. Besides gen eds, college offers a ton of opportunities, and even though the curriculum may not be exactly how we want it, there is a lot to look forward to. So while you are preparing to move in, make sure to not get too freaked out about your gen eds, because college will go by fast and before you know it, you'll have completed all of your requirements.
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