As second semester creeps around the corner, students begin to plan out their course selection for the winter term. As part of course regulation, students are required to have 68 general course credits to graduate. These credit mandates bring both positive and negative emotion among students around campus.
“General education requirements can give you a range of decisions as to what you want to major in. However, they can also be a waste of time,” said Andrew Ludden 24’. “Your GPA is at risk of dropping for a class that has no correlation to your major. It seems unfair.”
General education requirements, more commonly known as gen eds, in some students’ minds delay their academic process by steering them off track of their intended major course load.
“The requirement is unfair and is honestly a waste of money for some students. I consider myself one of those students. I still have a ton of gen ed classes to get out of the way and won’t be able to start any classes specific to my major [IPHS] until the end of my junior year. I don’t feel prepared,” said Grace Warmbier 24’.
Having a magnitude of options to choose from with limited time to complete them, students can get overwhelmed during course registration.
“Being a student athlete, taking over 16 credit hours is too hard of a burden. I must make sure I’m on track to finish my gen eds while also exploring possible career paths. They are important in a certain light, but there are too many to complete in four years,” said Amelia Lane 25’.
In response to the negative response of general education classes, students have created new ideas for a different structure to how they would like their education to be modeled after.
“I would really like our education at Alma College to be set up in the way that we start to take only our classes for our major right away, and not have any general education classes implemented . The more we know of our major the better we will be able to perform in our adult life and at our jobs, “said Warmbier.
However, some students do believe in the importance of these courses.
“Taking courses in the general education sequence should never be approached through a check the boxes mentality, as that trivializes and undermines the intended purpose,” said Brain Hancock, assistant professor of education. “Instead, it’s important for students to set a schedule that allows for time and space to truly think and engage in each course—including those in their majors and minors.”
“Each high school has different standards for things such as English and math. Giving a baseline course at college ensures that all students are on an even playing field to understand the bare
minimum [in regards to] these courses. Which in turn gives them the knowledge to ensure that they are successful at higher level classes,” said Austin DeRocher 24’.
The goal of these courses is to offer students the opportunity to become well-rounded in a multitude of different subjects.
“These courses are important to develop a broad base on which to grow socially, emotionally, and intellectually, and push students to think in ways that might feel foreign,” said Hancock. “Education, broadly, is about expanding and improving human existence.”