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Gen ed classes – worthwhile or a waste of time?

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Oriana Espinoza Mendoza

In college, students must take a variety of classes, not only the ones they want to take but also required courses they must take to graduate. Some of these general education classes include science, history, math and art. Different arguments can be made about why students are required to take these courses and whether they are helpful or not.

Rebeka Seng, a sophomore from Bolivia, believes some of the general education courses integrate well with her major. For instance, in English classes, she can learn additional writing skills she hasn’t learned before, which will not only help her write research papers and complete projects but will be useful later in life. Although she hasn’t taken many gen ed courses yet, she feels that sociology will be helpful for her major, which is psychology. She thinks other gen ed courses could be helpful for her daily life or some specific situations, but not for her major.

“I think that these requirements will contribute to my academic and personal development by giving me more knowledge about daily life things,” she said. “As I mentioned before, all the English classes could help me write good texts in the future as a psychologist and the Christian classes could help me grow spiritually, which I as a believer think is really important to do parallel to your academic growth.”

However, according to Seng, most of the gen ed classes have nothing to do with her major.

“The history classes that are required can help me be a more cultured person who knows more about the country’s history,” she said. “In this way, I could have important conversations in the future. I think the gen ed classes are more for personal development than for my academic development.”

Seng said gen ed classes provide a way for students to have at least a little knowledge of each area for different situations in life. But, at the same time, they’re very similar to classes taught in high school or even middle school.

“I don’t think it’s really necessary to repeat them if we’ve already had them in our school years,” she said. “I also think it’s a little bit unfair that internationals can’t skip those classes even though they’ve already taken it in high school while Americans can. For example, I know some international students who did the IB (International Baccalaureate) program back in their countries and they took very advanced English, history, math, biology and chemistry classes, but they have to take all of that again here because they can’t transfer those credits because they didn’t graduate from an American high school.”

Janna Mei Smith, a junior from Barbourville, Kentucky, said the only general ed class she found interesting that coordinates with her major is biological concepts because she enjoyed the lab that goes along with it and the material taught.

“I don’t think fulfilling these requirements will contribute to my overall academic development because most of these classes I will not use in the future,” she said. “Unless you need that class for your major, you will never use what you learned in that specific class again. As a biology major, I took art as a gen ed, and I will mostly never use what I learned in art class in my biology classes. As for my personal development, these classes may contribute to my overall knowledge. Just knowing information from different subjects may be able to help me or others later in life.”

Smith said, depending on the gen ed class and the situation, she could see knowledge from her requirements being very helpful. She feels like math and English requirements would be the most helpful, knowing how many feet are in a meter so you can put new flooring in a house, or knowing how to use correct grammar when writing a letter to a big company. There are only a few concepts she feels will be relevant to her future career and that would be knowing how cells work, or knowing what chemicals could be harmful to the body.

“In my opinion, I do not feel like general education classes are very important,” she said. “Unless you are unsure what you want to major in, and these classes can help you decide what you like and dislike. If you are sure of what you want to do, these gen eds are kind of pointless and a waste of time because you may not need them in the future.”

Fabiana Di Feliciantonio, a freshman chemistry major, is realizing in her second semester that general ed classes are a waste of money and time. She said that it was not worth it to keep repeating what she had done in high school.

“I thought I was going to start college and go directly to my main focus, which is chemistry, and not worry about classes that I did in high school,” she said.

She said that the only classes that should be required are English and math because these classes can help her with her career, math because it’s connected to her major, and English because it is not her first language.

“The first two years of college are general ed courses,” she said. “Only focusing on each student’s major.”

Depending on personal objectives, professional routes, and past educational experiences, the answer to the question of whether these classes are necessary for academic and personal development may vary. Perhaps as institutions of higher learning develop further, a careful evaluation of the general education requirements could result in a more beneficial and customized learning environment for every student.

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About the Contributor
Oriana Espinoza Mendoza is a junior originally from Venezuela, but she's been living in North Carolina since she was 14 years old. She is a mass communication area major with a minor in sports management. She's also a member of the Campbellsville University women's tennis team. She really enjoys playing a variety of sports and cooking with and for her family. This is her first year reporting for The Campus Times.

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