The lunacy of general education courses

By Mark Parent, Special to The Carolinian

Published in print Dec 3, 2014.

Let’s face it.  General education requirements are a complete and utter waste of time.

I want you to think back to every registration period you’ve forced yourself to endure.

Now recount all of those silly requirements UNCG compelled you to fulfill in order to make your degree evaluation look all nice and pretty.

This process, which is far more confusing than it should be, seems to always remind me of the blatant uselessness of the majority of classes we are mandated to take during the course of our college career.

Students in the College of Arts and Sciences (CASA), for example, are required to take: three sciences, one math, three writing-intensive courses outside of your major, one fine arts, two literature courses, one philosophy, two histories, three reasoning and discourse, and three more behavioral sciences.

Oh, and don’t forget the four semesters of a foreign language those lucky CASA kids have to endure.

As this list proves, there are too many classes required of us to graduate.

Not to mention that none of us really care about these required courses; we just do our best and suffer through them because we have no other choice.

The simple fact of the matter is that most students are only interested in classes pertaining to their major.

I know this may seem like a novel concept to the group of administrators who establish the curriculum at UNCG, but it’s exactly how students feel.

As a side note, I find it astounding that a group of “open-minded” academics can be so incredibly narrow-minded on issues relating to common sense.

Of course, colleges’ over-reliance on archaic educational practices are not solely motivated by narrow-mindedness; instead, it’s motivated by the business of college.As all of us know, college is really expensive.

And, judging by a 2013 Huffington Post poll that found 62% of people believing they couldn’t afford the cost of a public university, I believe that previous statement is accurate.

Now, at this point you’re probably wondering how the outrageous costs associated with education are tied to general education courses.

Well, the answer is actually quite obvious: general education courses require a student to stay in school for a longer period of time, thus resulting in a larger bill for the student.

Just think about all of the time you have invested in these utterly meaningless courses; odds are that this amount of time will end up equaling roughly two years of your college experience. 

So, in reality, we’re throwing away tens of thousands of dollars on courses on that in no way pertain to our intended field of study.

I mean, seriously, that “great information” I learned in Earth Science about igneous and metamorphic rocks isn’t going to help me out too much in my first job interview.

Instead, it’ll be some drunken conversation topic that I bumble through ten years from now.

And while I know this is fairly demeaning to some of the introductory courses offered on campus, I can’t help but wonder how administrators justify the continuation of some of these “joke” classes.

After all, it shouldn’t be too hard to check on the rigor of a course and the strength of a professor; all you have to do is refer to “rate my professor,” or just look at the grades handed out at the end of the semester.

And, frankly, as a hardworking student it’s embarrassing to see what’s expected in some introductory classes on campus.  I’m sorry, but four tests straight from the PowerPoints that are posted online aren’t going to compel students to either attend class or immerse themselves in the material.

So, to me, the argument that general education courses allow students to diversify their interests is simply preposterous.

All we can do, as students, is do our very best while suffering through these courses.

And maybe, just maybe, administrators at UNCG and beyond will recognizing the glaring deficiencies within its system and eliminate general education requirements.

Please, just let us do what we’re paying tens of thousands of dollars for: learn stuff that matters to our career.

Categories: mark parent, Opinions

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