Being Well-Rounded May Put a Hole in Your Pocket

Unnecessary general education requirements delay graduation and detriment students’ pocket books

The college experience offers a great opportunity, to traditional and nontraditional students alike, for personal growth and enrichment. Key courses in a student’s program, like calculus for the mathematics major, offer useful knowledge that will aid them in further studies and valuable skills which may land them a job or an internship.

Every undergraduate program however, is littered with courses that meet general education requirements such as global consciousness or critical thinking. Many of these courses are of little benefit to the student as they can be irrelevant to the individual’s future career. Often times, these filler courses make obtaining a degree a more timely process and, consequently, a more costly one.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics’ website, the average time it took to obtain a bachelors degree was 55 months for those graduating in 1999-2000 ( This is about 4.6 years. I can only speculate that this figure has been at best maintained. It is more probable though, this figure has increased considering that graduation requirements have become increasingly difficult to meet.

Many would argue that these general education courses, though offering no specific skill or knowledge one might probably utilize, enrich the person by teaching them life lessons like critical thinking and working as part of a group.

Skills are not unique to these inapplicable classes. One can easily get this kind of experience in a course that will be vastly more important in their career or education.Further-more, one could acquire this same type of experience during an internship, an opportunity that is infinitely more valuable than a one-semester course that will probably be lost to memory in less than a year.

Some unneeded classes may be detrimental to a students selected pursuits. A professor may not asses the importance of the courses they teach in relation to how this knowledge will go on to benefit the student. Because students commonly lack the experience and insight to know what courses may actually be useful to them in the future, they may allocate their time in a very unbeneficial way. Effort that could be spent toward something extremely useful is then lost forever. I think I can speak for most students when I say that prioritizing my study efforts has less to do with what will be useful to me after college and more to do with which exam is next on the calendar.

If a professor over-inflates the relativism of their course, regardless of intent, the student only stands to suffer.

This is not to say that courses commonly defined by these requirements are not beneficial to some. Individuals taking courses purely out of interest likely find many of these courses fascinating and do not view them as mere hurdles that need be cleared on the way to a degree. For students who are dedicated specific field of study however, courses that lie outside of their chosen scope represent problematic obstacles that cost them time and money.