General Education Courses in Colleges and Universities

Most students despise the concept of taking general education (GE) courses that have little to do with their field of study. Regardless of whether one’s major or minor is, all students are required to complete these courses before completing their degree program (Cohn n.p.). I’m an engineering major, but I have to take classes in art history, public speaking, and economics that I don’t understand. I believe that the educational system is just trying to prolong the process in order to extract more money from you. These subjects should be elective rather than compulsory. GE courses vary depending on the institution but mostly embody arts, social sciences, humanities, natural sciences and writing skills. For the most part, they have the same path, but not all classes transfer as they are on a different level. A university must approve a junior college/community college course for it to be a transferable class. Students need not waste time revisiting concepts they already studied in high school (Martorano n.p.). They should focus on their specialization. Despite having a sense of direction of where one wants to go after graduation, many colleges and institutions will not allow their students to graduate without them covering general education courses.
General Education Courses
These are primarily those subjects people studied at grade and high school levels. They include Mathematics, Science, English and Social Studies (Soven, Margot & Betsy n.p). On joining a particular university to attain a degree, be it medicine or engineering, computer science or hotel management one still must attend some of these classes each semester in spite of their major academic disciplines. Some institutions have units that focus on religion, a foreign language like French or Spanish or cultures. These GE courses are a puzzle to many college students who consider them unnecessary and irrelevant. Attending GE classes makes a person well-educated in a range of academic knowledge. Though people prefer that universities focus on their core classes, these other general education courses are equally important.
Literature Review
Warner and Koeppel tried to look at the benefits of incorporating general education courses in institutions of higher learning. Each student undertaking an undergraduate course is supposed to complete a GE component upon graduation. GE courses are a substantial part of the university education system since it ensures students have the necessary breadth of knowledge. They also suggested that studies in all universities, public or private, should get allocated 30 hours or more each semester to concentrate on Gen Ed courses for the benefits it impacts on them in future.
The University of Massachusetts requires that each student takes eleven GE classes during their time at the institution regardless of their major (Martorano n.p.). These courses include US diversity, writing skills, basic mathematics, literature and arts, history, analytical reading, physical and biological sciences as well as global diversity. It is a waste of time since students will spend the same amount of time on both their core and GE requirements. Students end up staying on the campus for approximately two more semesters, which is 25% of the expected duration an individual is expected to receive the college education. However, the institution argues that these subjects broaden the students’ horizons and point of view. The argument is that since childhood kids in kindergarten and high school covered all the subject areas; English, mathematics, science and social studies. The same subjects that were a challenge to a student in grade school are likely to be a bother at the university level. Why then should someone get forced to study a unit that the individual is not comfortable with taking? It would be better if colleges spent their time teaching their students only what they are passionate about or are interested in doing.
Hawthorne, Kelsch, and Steen argued that institutions of higher learning have the chance to link undergraduate experience with GE courses to improve the overall performance of the core requirements through the capstone experience. It would help reinforce goals for the degree programs especially for these individuals who changed schools after completing their coursework in general education. It also integrates the undergraduate experience since those courses get taught in the context of their majors. The University Of North Dakota implemented the use of these capstone courses, and the benefits were remarkable. GE goals in the institution got a greater explicit emphasis.
The Purpose of GE Courses
Students do not just go to college to attain their degrees and be future leaders and professionals in their various fields. They also need to get well-rounded in multiple other aspects. Students also need to get prepared for the specific professions they choose to venture. That is why many institutions of higher learning focus on educating these teenagers on aspects in varying fields especially in their first two years at the campus (Cohn n.p.). It may feel like a waste of time but in the long-run one has a full breadth of skills and knowledge. Studying GE courses is directly beneficial to a person’s career development. Individuals can adequately write emails and reports needed in their lines of work. They could also quickly determine financial remedies using pure mathematics or apply history in deciding the best course of action for a dilemma all thanks to the various GE courses incorporated in colleges and universities. “The general education capstone commonly doubles as a disciplinary capstone, so departments are focused in a new way on general education outcomes” (Hawthorne et al. 32).
Transferring General Education Courses
One might consider attending these GE classes due to the convenience and ease of a transfer. Math is math; Science is science. Being taught a concept at Oxford University will not change it. A person at a small community college will also attain the same knowledge since it is standard worldwide. Taking these courses now will come in handy in future since they can get applied when getting another degree. Individuals get to easily switch schools since they know they will not retake the same old units at the new institution (Orillion 11-14). One can confidently say there is a guarantee of being able to transfer all the GE courses studied. These classes are also very captivating and exciting to learn compared to the core subjects. A person can only imagine an engineering student without public speaking or a communication skills class. The boredom would be beyond imaginable. Professors try to make these lectures more fun to ensure students capture almost everything. It is because they know they only get to teach that particular course for that major. Lecturers might incorporate reviews of exciting case studies or even go to the extent of watching movies to make the students interested. It is essential to sign up for these Gen Ed classes since an individual can easily transfer these units to another institution.
Flexibility of GE Courses
The objective of institutions of higher learning is to ensure all their students succeed and have a bright future. They offer these extra courses so that one individual can have a variety of options. A student would learn about math in a Business Math class, Algebra class or when learning Advanced Calculus. As an engineering student, a person can decide to study technical writing which might be helpful in writing curriculum vitae and resumes necessary in job applications.
Provides a broader outlook on life
If not for GE courses, some subjects would not have gotten tackled by a majority of the teenagers on the campus. Sometimes it is good to try things one thought they were not ‘good at.’ Attending GE classes might also provide students with the clarity of what they like or dislike. It also offers these individuals opportunity for further growth (Hawthorne et al. 25). The higher education experience needs to include different modes of thinking considering life may morph and interests slip away. These subjects act as a stepping stone and point of transition between high school and college. Some people grow old not knowing what they want in particular. An individual cannot say that high school lessons are enough to decide on the exact path they want to take in life and their careers (Orillio 5).
Wastage of time and money
However, some people argue that GE courses are a waste of time and time. Some units like COMS 100 and ENGL 103 makes individuals on campus think the road to success is easy yet that is not the case. Despite their benefits, studying such units is more of revisiting concepts and skills already possessed by many. Some can even get picked up within their four-year course. Majority of students in the university can adequately organize essays and speak in front of a crowd. It is therefore considered a waste of time attending classes to get taught public speaking, communication skills or essay writing (Soven, Margot & Betsy n.p). As one forges ahead in campus, the individuals view GE courses as a joke and realize there are other valuable skills one needs to gain. A journalism student might not need to learn about the Pythagoras Theorem taught in MATH 101 in freshman year. Universities need to ensure their students entirely focus on their specialization while on campus.
It costs a lot to enroll in a GE course. An individual could have used this money elsewhere to pay rent or as a start-up for business. Already college is as expensive as it is. Undertaking classes which are not related to one’s career cannot get justified (Orillionm 5-8). Most students have to pay up their loans after completing school. It would be a lesser burden were the fees utilized wholly on nurturing relevant skills to their career path.
In the course of time, generation after generation, students have been forced to take compulsory education classes. They mainly composed of classes which are more or less like the one a student took in high school, however once again one is forced to go through them. The general education units have subjects such as English, science, mathematics and or history. College is expected to students ready for the future. Nonetheless, employers do not care if an individual is an expert to take and pass standardized exams. But any employer wants an employee to be an expert in whatever field he is purported to be a professional for him or her to have a successful occupation in doing what they love to do(Orillion 5). In any case, the student has a major that he or she would wish to pursue, it follows that every class, as well as the time they spend not in attending the unit, should be directed in getting ready for the field.
The only time that a college should make a student pursue general education class is when he or she is not sure to take a major. In this context, the student will have to attend the classes where they can get what they need to do with the lives after college. All the same forcing students to take the compulsory course is not right at all. The current generation is entirely different, given that in present day an individual will not go and consult a teacher or books to get an answer to given question but rather will promptly use Google search(Hawthorne et al. 25). A student cannot know everything in life since this part of a human. Not knowing everything is often in front of us and that does not make anybody to be dumb but instead brings variation.
Some students join the college with a focused mind on what they want to pursue. However, they end up not practicing their profession when they venture into the real world after finishing their college education. The supporters this matter hence argue that in such as case, if the student took general education units, he is she might be encouraged to have the options open and not committing to just a single path in his or her life which by that time has nothing to offer(Hawthorne et al. 25). Thus, in future, most people can change jobs, instead of the traditional method or belief of having one single career for a lifetime. Therefore, diversified college curriculum will prepare learners to adapt to tomorrow challenges.
Of course in absences of general education class should be compulsory if all a student is serious about higher education. By the way, general education, that term itself make it look like it is not essential because the student had it in their previous levels of education. It, therefore, means that if it was referred to as the continuous or any other form of education, it would bear such a stigmatized significance. No student is in college that wants to identify him or herself by saying that he is enrolled for general. Besides, suggesting that the students are coerced brings about some sense of rebellion as well. For example, in this case, it would be called course renewal or rather pre-college tutorials to avoid demeaning the enthusiasm of students who have just enrolled. Moreover, it would be so more comfortable when learners comprehend the importance of necessary skills that will help them in future to progress well with their education. There is nothing which is so discouraging to a student not passing a course due to lack of necessary skills such as reading and writing. Not to mention lacking the skills to help in projects in higher standards of education. Students should know that college is not meant to make the undertake the courses they had undertaken, but it is intended to remove unnecessary obstacles to learning when they come in contact with newer and higher learning standards. Additionally, if placement examinations are indeed successfully put in place, the students are supposed to humble themselves and hence accept the required class to attain a higher quality of education. Students are supposed to have aptitude tests, and that can only be taken in general education classes, hence proceed from there. A lot of concepts that are covered in general education are just but a preparation and a rehash of what they had done such as writing, speaking, having basic mathematical skills. Thus, some critics such as Cohn say that forcing students to repeat such skills is just show that the education system does not have confidence in students. It makes people think that students are not wise enough to partake such disciplines on their own hence lack the adult ability to enable them learns on their own. Therefore, the best solution is to give aptitude test in general education to the students who want to improve their skills preferably alone and allow those who have such skills or who have developed such skills to take the course they need. For example, they should be allowed to submit short pieces of their essays, research papers, short story novel, and professional emails among others. An, in any case, they do not have the basic grammar to perform such tasks correctly, and then they have to be allowed to take small online units in English and composition. Regarding mathematical ability, they should be tested on fundamental, addition and subtraction, multiplication and division ability. Thus, if they cannot handle such easy tasks because they cannot comprehend, then they have to attend full classes.
Some people say that students should get taught what they will do for the rest of their lives. That they need to learn what they are specialized in doing to avoid wasting resources and time. Individuals enroll in colleges already aware of what they are passionate about and would like to do. However, they should undertake GE courses to be able to excel in the various fields. A college curriculum that is diverse will prepare students for any scenario in tomorrow’s economy (Warner & Koeppel, p.245). Individuals need to be humble and accept to learn from other people since no one ‘knows it all.’

Works Cited
Cohn, C. “Why You Need to take Gen Eds and how you can appreciate them.” HuffPost,
Oath Inc. Retrieved from
Hawthorne, J., Kelsch, A., & Steen, T. “Making general education matter: Structures and
strategies.”New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 2010(121), 2010, pp.23-33.
Martorano, E. “General Education courses should not be required.”Daily Collegian, 2014.
Retrieved from should- not-be-required/
Orillion, M. “Interdisciplinary curriculum andstudent outcomes: The case of a general
education course at a research university.” Journal of General Education, 58(1), 2009,
Soven, Margot & Betsy. Linked Courses For General Education And Integrative Learning.
N.p. Print.
Warner, D. B., & Koeppel, K. “General education requirements: A comparative analysis.”
Journal of General Education, 58(4), 2009, pp. 241-258.

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