When pursuing a degree, most students are looking to finish as quickly as possible, so it can be frustrating to have to take basic general education classes that do not line up with their chosen major. However, these classes form a base of knowledge that is indispensable in life beyond college, no matter what career follows.
General education courses allow students to explore subjects they may not have known they would be interested in. This exploration in a college setting can lead to a complete change of plans, and students may find themselves pursuing a career that they would never have considered otherwise.
They also turn students into well-rounded adults. The skills learned in general education courses can be useful in any career a student pursues, even if they seem irrelevant. Taking English courses as an engineering major, for example, allows a student to properly communicate and understand needs, wants and requests in writing.
Taking mathematics courses allows an English major to apply problem-solving skills to other aspects. Mathematics classes also allow all students to better manage their finances, both personal and professional. The more technical majors such as pre-med and sciences benefit from taking humanities courses by seeing more subjective viewpoints of the world, giving the students a better scope for the importance of the work others do.
“All professions such as education must start with basic courses that inform university students about the essential field of study they are majoring in,” the Teachers Education Department’s Dr. Phyllis K. Adcock said.
Students concerned about time, such as those with jobs and other commitments, often choose to take many of their general education courses online, and there are both benefits and drawbacks to doing so.
This can have some benefits when working with a tight schedule, but students should be mindful of their learning styles to ensure that they get the most learning possible out of the classes for which they are paying.
“Online classes are a great avenue for students who have other obligations that do not allow them to block off certain hours of the day,” junior communication studies major Daylee Olson said, “but I feel that I get more out of face to face learning.” Olson is taking one online class this semester.
Teachers can also have difficulty effectively teaching online classes compared to in person. “How can we have an understanding of the… student unless we spend time with them?” Adcock asked.
General education and basic foundation classes lay the ground work for all classes students take later on in their college career.
“Everything the student learns beyond their basic foundation courses is supported by what they learn earlier in their studies,” Adcock said.
Despite the frustration many students have with general education courses, they provide a much-needed service to university students. Beyond the time spent confirming a student’s interest in their major, the classes provide world-widening experiences that allow students to get perspective beyond their chosen majors and careers.