One of the draws of higher education is the freedom to choose one’s own courses; unfortunately students must also complete general education requirements.
Many people consider generals to be a useless inconvenience and an overall waste of time and money. Something even I agreed with when watching my savings account drain after paying my tuition.
While yes, college is about preparing students for a specific career field, it’s also prudent that students graduate with a well-rounded ability to communicate and solve problems. It’s easy to surround yourself with people who have similar beliefs especially when taking classes specific to your major. Yet in a real-world scenario, people often have completely different thoughts and ideas from your own. General education helps with that.
When you’re put in a class everyone is required to take, you tend to meet a wider variety of people, and to work with and around these people causes students to become better communicators and problem solvers.
It’s understandable students would rather focus on their own major in order to develop those specific skills needed for their field, but general education provides a foundation for critical thinking and global awareness techniques needed in any professional setting. Being able to see a problem and then come up with a reasonable and viable solution isn’t something that always comes naturally, and taking higher education classes such as math or science can help students to develop those skills.
Humanities and social science classes may not interest everyone, but learning about different social and human behaviors can make you more understanding and aware of the people and situations around you, as well as globally. It can even make you a more empathetic and understanding adult as a whole, according toMichael W. Austin PhD. I have loved taking classes that shed light on human behavior for this very reason. It’s easy to judge a book by its cover, but learning to look beyond the surface and understand where a person is coming from is an amazing skill to possess.
Another example of the value of general education would be taking a college-level English class. It may seem useless to students who aren’t interested in the English department, but the written and oral communication skills learned in these classes are priceless when put to use in your future career. I never would have gotten my job on this newspaper without the techniques I learned in my college English class. The ability to communicate both on paper and in person is important in almost every field imaginable, and college-level English provides students those invaluable skills.
Generals can seem like a death sentence when beginning school, but it is important to go into your general education classes with an open mind. It’s easy to walk into class with a bad attitude, but going in with the expectation that you are going to hate the class is more likely to cause you to actually end up hating the class and can even affect your grades. Instead of looking at generals as a chore that needs to be finished, try looking at them as an opportunity to expand your realm of thinking and as a way to meet new and interesting people. This will not only make the classes seem less grueling, but it might actually lead to them being enjoyable or at least tolerable.