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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA gen eds are a waste of time

As a senior with two majors and one minor, I have finished all of my major-specific course requirements. However, this semester, I am in a Tier 1 Natural Science class. The class is interesting and provides good information, but I’m constantly questioning why this information is considered so important to my future that not taking this class would prevent my graduation.

Undergraduate students seeking a degree at the UA are required to take general education courses in order to graduate. Math, science, humanities and foreign language — in almost all cases — are all required, regardless of a student’s field of study.

Gen ed courses are usually viewed by students as “joke classes,” and most strive to find the easiest possible route in taking them. Assignments in these classes tend to be easy, but are assigned often enough to dominate homework priorities, teaching students to essentially “fake it until we make it.”

When students are required to take upper-division courses outside of their major, the education of students who are in that area of study is devalued. Imagine a nutrition major taking an upper division linguistics course to satisfy a gen ed requirement. In fact, it’s not unrealistic for half of the class to have no linguistics background at all. The professor is then forced to choose between teaching an incredibly challenging class for the gen ed students or a slow-paced, almost remedial course for the linguistics students. No matter which choice the teacher makes, it would be unfair to half of the students.

This devalues upper-division classes for students in several fields and puts other students in an uncomfortable learning environment. If students only took classes in their respective fields, the quality of their education would be higher and undergraduate students would be able to become more skilled in their chosen field. The way many major programs are currently structured leaves us a jack of all trades, but a master of none.

Universities in the U.S. are some of the only universities that require students to take so many courses outside of their field of study. Universities abroad direct their students’ studies and let them focus only on the subjects that truly matter. This would take the stress away from many students who feel pressured to take over 18 credit hours a semester, while maintaining a job to pay for the exorbitant cost of college.

I propose that the only required courses outside of a student’s major area of study be a writing course that teaches students how to write at a college level, with analytical essays. Analysis of literature should have been taken care of in high school, and now each student at this level should possess the skills needed to write an essay that could be published in an academic journal. If needed for certain majors, math or statistics would also be a reasonable requirement.

University-level studies should be more about specialization in a chosen field than about covering a wide breadth of topics with little depth. Making gen ed courses obsolete will benefit students, professors and ultimately increase the value of our degrees. 

Follow Nicole Rochon on Twitter

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