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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Con: Math as a GE

On entering college, students should be allowed the freedom to focus on their strengths. Opting-out of math, with the knowledge that it will not be your field of study, should be an option.

Beginning in kindergarten, and lasting through high school, students in American schools are obligated to take and pass math classes. After all those years, most people are capable of understanding arithmetic procedures, basic algebra, and geometry well enough to function in their daily lives. But for some, understanding math demands an immense amount of study and attention which most students don’t have.

The intensity of that study may deter students from transferring because they are set back by math requirements for which they may not care, or may have failed in the past. Many math classes may not even be transferable, which can cause students to waste their time and money. Facing over-complicated problems doesn’t necessarily help students learn, but may in fact impede students from learning. Familiarity in basic math is critical to students. It gives them the freedom to think in new ways, using the knowledge they already possess.

Even in a community college, each unit costs $40, meaning that a five unit math class can add up to $200. Without financial aid or parents to pay their way, that forces students to pay that out of pocket. With a part time job on top of everything, it only makes it harder for a student to dedicate the time and energy to completing these course which, in all likelihood, they will never apply in their future careers.

In the European system, students begin focusing on the career path for which they show an aptitude immediately before beginning university. Schools in that continent consistantly show better performance than American schools, which rank far lower in successful rates than our system.

Having this requirement is a setback for students who are not set on becoming engineers or physicists, but can not move on due to a course they don’t understand or care about.

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