General education courses are a waste of time and money


By Alyssa Pracz

General education courses should not be required for college students. For many, they are a waste of time and money that could be better spent elsewhere.

Students should not be forced to take classes that cover materials they have already been familiar with at some point in high school. I remember as a freshman taking classes such as ENGL 103 or COMS 100. Yes, both classes may be beneficial to some, but they mostly just rehash concepts and skills that the majority of students already possess or will pick up in other courses throughout their academic careers.

By the time most people get to college, they know how to write and organize an essay or have spoken in front of a classroom before.

When I took classes such as these my freshman year, I initially thought college was a joke. It wasn’t until I got more into the classes required for my major that I began to take college seriously and feel as if I was actually learning and gaining valuable skills.

Additionally, many of these classes are rather useless since they probably have absolutely nothing to do with one’s major. One example is the dreaded MATH 101. As a journalism major, I am never going to need to know the Pythagorean Theorem or the quadratic formula in order to write or edit a column effectively.

While some math classes dealing with financial planning could be useful, many of these skills can be learned through life experience. For the most part, students should be able to focus solely on their major during their time at college.

The fact is that most students don’t approach these courses with the same sort of devotion as they do with classes they see as being useful. Professors, however, tend to teach the material as if everyone taking the class is planning on majoring in the subject. As a result, many students’ grades suffer, sometimes to the point of lowering their grade point averages so much that they are unable to get into the major they planned on pursuing.

It would be much more beneficial to spend the first two years studying more thoroughly for your major than wasting your time worrying about your grades for general education courses.

Also, taking general education classes costs a lot of money. According to NIU’s website, a year of college tuition at NIU for an undergraduate is estimated at $11,144.16. After two years of taking classes that, for the most part, are just review sessions of things you have learned in high school, you have spent $22,288.32.

That’s a lot of money that could have been used to put toward a car payment or paying one’s rent while at school.

College is so expensive that it is hard to justify taking classes that ultimately do not help you in your career. Upon graduating, most students are faced with the daunting task of paying off all of their debt accumulated through student loans.

It would be much easier to do this if the four years and thousands of dollars were spent cultivating skills that are essential to the student’s ability to pursue his or her intended career path.

College should be a time spent focusing on and learning about what you’re going to do for the rest of your life, not frantically trying to learn bits and pieces of every possible subject on campus.