After 12 years of education on a broad range of topics, students are usually able to determine their academic strengths and weaknesses. Ideally, students would graduate high school with an intended field of study and attend college to become specialized in that field.
There are few colleges in the country that offer an open curriculum – no additional requirements outside of major coursework. In the United States, most colleges require a rehash of K-12 classes in the form of general education. Brown University and Amherst College are colleges that successfully offer an open curriculum. All colleges and universities should follow those examples and offer general education as electives.
Proponents of general education may insist that these classes will make a well-rounded, cultural individual, but these classes are actually a waste of time, effort and money.
Pierce College requires its students to complete general education classes to obtain an associate degree. General education classes are also recommended to prospective transfer students in addition to lower division classes that apply to a chosen major.
According to Pierce’s 2014-2015 Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC), 34-37 units are required to complete general education requirements. If a student were to devote his or herself entirely to completing these requirements, he or she would need to dedicate more than two semesters as a full-time student, or more than three semesters as a part-time student.
At 37 units, general education is more than half of the minimum 60 units recommended for transfer. Moreover, at $46 per unit in the LACCD, these mandatory 37 units cost about $1,700 – and that’s only community college tuition.
General education classes and first-level “101” classes are highly sought after by students and are usually the first classes to be filled. With the difficulty of getting classes anyway, mandatory general education classes put more stress on students attaining classes.
College should be a time for students to practice and gain insight on their strengths, but instead, general education exploits weaknesses. A math major is required to take a history class, but he or she may not be adept in that subject, so his or her GPA will needlessly suffer.
Students may also view general education as an obstacle to overcome and nothing more. Students will seek “easy” classes with agreeable professors to secure a decent grade while putting in minimal effort. General education classes hinder a student’s college career because instead of trying his or her absolute best, he or she will become complacent and even apathetic toward education.
Although general education can be useful for a student who is uncertain of what field to study, students that already know should not be forced to delay their major coursework. The student will be wasting resources on classes that won’t be relevant to his or her future career.