Universities and college students are missing the point of general education.
I thoroughly enjoyed my general education classes, but I didn’t know what I wanted to major in at the time, and I am one of the students who genuinely enjoys learning beyond just receiving a passing letter grade. My general education didn’t help me pick my major, but I enjoyed the broadening process, and I do feel like I have come away a more well-rounded person.
Beyond being able to write and do math; I know some the different philosophical fallacies; some of the rocks on the beach are actually living creatures; and about 1.42 billion gallons of drinkable water is flushed down American toilets daily. I’ve decided oil paint is better than acrylic, and the art concept value is extremely important in capturing images, and texture and exaggeration are my most enjoyable painting styles. All things that would have never been put in perspective for me without general education beyond my major.
The most complained about class I have heard at Dixie State University is probably the class LIB 1010 or CIS 1200. They are full of basic information, it’s online, and students end up forgetting about it for both reasons. Even though it is mundane information for our technology-savvy generation, it is just information DSU wants to make sure you have in order to be successful in our technological culture.
Other than that, I have heard the normal complaints here and there. They normally go, “But I’m a math major, why do I need English?” or “I’m a business major, why do I need science?”
I can see why students would be upset with this part of the culture in the American system because that is wasted money for something you don’t care about but are required to take. According to the DSU homepage, to receive your Associate of Arts at DSU as a full-time student, it costs about $10,000 for in-state students and $28,000 for out-of-state students; a healthy two-year gross revenue for DSU to be getting from either student. Not to mention that is if you pass all your classes.
The other side of the argument for general education classes is the scholastic world claiming to help us naïve students become broadened and well-rounded.
We arguably start general education in kindergarten and are constantly practicing and advancing those basic skills until our senior year of high school. Also, dropouts are now are frowned upon by society, so the majority of students shouldn’t be missing out on all of this required general education, right?
But are we really learning the basics well enough in high school to be successful in college, and universities are making revenue on unnecessary classes? Or is high school a joke and general education in college really does not only improve our basic skills to a professional level, but broadens our education as well?
After high school I could read, write and do math, but I still didn’t know the different formats of writing and how to make them purposeful like a personal analysis. I memorized the steps of calculus not understanding its purpose beyond numbers. My research in high school wasn’t much more in-depth than skimming through the studies to finish a paper. My general education gave me more perspective to those basic skills and I was able to strengthen them and understand how they applied to the world.
Mathew Morin, assistant professor of interdisciplinary arts and sciences, said the American college education system isn’t trying to make a profit on students, especially here at DSU with the tuition being so cheap.
Morin said general education does need to be enhanced and is being reformed at multiple universities including DSU.
“The flaw right now is that general education is content driven and not focused on skills,” Morin said.
At DSU, students need a certain amount of math classes, English classes, science classes, he said. Systematically, those classes are only critiqued on what information students are given, not what skills students would gain.
“That is the biggest complaint we hear from 21st century employers that these educated students still don’t have real world skills,” Morin said. “The education system needs to stop being critiqued on information and be critiqued on what skills students actually come away with.”
According to 2,134 surveyed college graduates by CareerBuilder about 50 percent of college graduates didn’t get a job out of college dealing with their major and 32 percent of graduates never did.
A study observing LinkedIn’s Economic Graph shows millennials are also predicted to change jobs four times within their first decade of graduating. Morin said this is a good thing because students’ interests are likely to change after college.
Morin said the skills students need to be obtaining are critical thinking, effective communication, information literacy, quantitative reasoning, diversity and globalization, and last but not least, responsibilities of citizenship.
“It about learning these skills and different perspectives and integrating them across multiple fields, not keeping them separated with content,” Morin said.
Morin said a general education reformation has some political head buddingand isn’t going to happen overnight, but he is optimistic it will happen quickly.
The world is changing faster than the education system could have anticipated and general education isn’t the most beneficial it could be right now. But it does broaden you perspective and make you a more well-rounded student if you let it. That means going to school beyond the sole purpose of getting a passing grade and a degree, you should actually want to learn and remembering what we learned by applying, connecting and transitioning those perspectives and skills across multiple fields of education.