General education courses are supposed to be making students more well-rounded, but in reality, they are only hindering them.
The article “The Flaws of General Education” by Vyacheslav Bayatyan said that student debt could be lowered if fewer general education requirements were lowered. He states that general education is only supposed to be taught so that when we leave school, we will have more general knowledge, which may or may not help us in daily situations.
As a student myself, I agree because if students forget the majority of the material, it is a waste of money, and the value is no longer there. Students forget the majority of the material because it is of little interest or value to them. Suppose you ask a university student a question about a history course. In that case, they will likely be unable to provide much information because the course requirement that they completed was essentially something that they completed but did not concentrate on because it was not relevant to their desired outcome.
A key quote from Bayatyan is, “General education teaches very little of the skills required to succeed in the real world.” This couldn’t be more accurate because when you look at the average undergraduate student, you’ll notice that even though they’ve completed all of their general education requirements, they’re still unable to do their taxes, purchase a house, or spend their money more wisely. Each undergraduate student spends about $30,000 on their education; therefore, if gen-eds are needed, they should be of greater value than learning about redundant math concepts, or Biology that will be irrelevant as soon as the course finishes.
This is a difficult decision to address. However, there are some seemingly simple solutions. I believe we should concentrate on school reform because graduates would have a higher success rate in the real world if we could fix the education system. Teaching students how to be financially responsible is a good place to start, and making a financial literacy course a general education requirement would do just that.
Another argument to consider is that if there were fewer general education requirements, students would graduate a semester earlier, thus saving thousands of dollars. Although a few thousand dollars less in student loans might not seem like much throughout a lifetime, it can make a significant difference in how long it takes to pay them off. In addition to the thousands of dollars in student debt, paying off student loans in a shorter period means paying less interest.
On the other hand, gen- ed requirements are a staple part of a college student’s educational career. Many universities believe that core classes such as the arts, humanities, math, social sciences, and others are necessary for a person to be well-rounded. They believe that this broadens a person’s horizons and improves their understanding of the world. They also say that gaining more experience provides you with more working ability in the real world. I believe this counterargument is inaccurate for today’s university students because a large part of education is conforming to the student’s needs, and today many of these gen-ed courses simply don’t mean as much as they once did. Many students will go into jobs where math and science won’t be in anyone’s topic choice. The same goes for the opposite end of career choices. So, although this counterargument was true even just 10-15 years ago, society has changed drastically, making it no longer a necessity.
As a student myself, I can attest to a great deal of what is said about general education requirements. Students, including myself, feel a few necessary courses that should be taken are those in the field of communication, and a course in financial literacy. The main reason being that, unlike history courses, general communication courses will help students deal with conflicting personalities at their future jobs, this will serve as invaluable knowledge that will help students through their whole lives. The financial literacy course will help students learn about money so that they can learn how to manage their credit cards and even learn how to file taxes when they leave school. Currently, not knowing these skills is having detrimental effects for many college graduates.
It is time we modernize our higher education system by making a few small changes that can exponentially change the future for many current students today. This by no means is a radical change, but rather a change that is more appropriate for today’s society.