A rebuttal: why general education matters
In an article written by the Torch’s Opinions Editor Megan Coady in last week’s Torch, she made the argument that general education classes are detriment to students’ pocketbooks and to their ability to graduate on time, and shouldn’t be required. I believe otherwise.
I agree with the fact that this costs students more money and that it may take longer to graduate; this is not arguable. What is arguable, though, is whether they should still be required.
The defining aspect that differentiates a university education from a trade or technical school one is that classes are required which are outside the curriculum of a student’s concentration of study. Here at Ferris these go by the familiar names of scientific understanding, global consciousness, cultural enrichment and others similar. All students who graduate with a degree are required at least this minimum of courses.
If you don’t want to take classes that do not directly apply to your degree, fine, but do not call it a university education. A college education is about much more than studying one field. It is about betterment of self, enrichment of knowledge, and looking at the world with a deeper understanding and appreciation for it.
These cannot be gained from simply studying one area. Yes, some of these skills can be learned in a class more relevant to a student’s major, but that is still leaving something out. It does not allow the student to experience other educational opportunities. A high percentage of students change their major at some point in college, and general education can help provide an understanding of where to go next.
In another sense, general education requirements provide another service for many students. Upon arriving on campus, many first year students have not decided what they want to study, and others are unsure if the program they have chosen is really the right fit for them. General education classes can help provide those students with a way of figuring out what they enjoy or what is a worthwhile path for them to take educationally.
My freshmen year of college, I came in as a hospitality management major. After taking English classes, I decided that hospitality wasn’t for me, and that I wanted to write for a living, which is why I switched to journalism. I also took a philosophy class, which made me realize that I wanted to study philosophy as a minor.
I most likely would not have taken these classes if they were not required of me, thus never discovering what I truly wanted to do in life. Not only does a solid general education foundation provide a sense of guidance in education, it makes students well-rounded in many different areas. For example, HVAC majors can become fine-tuned in English, communications majors can become fine-tuned in math or science, and any other combination you can think of.
Taking classes not directly related to a career or major is exactly what a university is about. It is the essence of higher education and a necessity for anyone hoping to better themselves educationally by coming to college.