General Education Classes: Useful or Useless?

Some students think that general education classes should not be required because they are not relevant to their majors, but these classes are important in creating well-rounded students.

David Gorman, associate professor of English, said general education classes help students develop basic skills like problem solving, thinking creatively and the ability to work with others.

"These are not abilities that a student will pick up in one major rather than another," Gorman said. "They are general, and thus, where students will begin to pick them up is in their general education courses."

He added that these are important skills that students need to have, because they are valued by future employers and will help students throughout the rest of their academic careers.

In addition, the specific concepts learned in general education classes can be incorporated into the classes required for your major or provide a different way of thinking about some of the topics discussed.

I am double majoring in journalism and psychology, and I'm going to earn a minor in philosophy. I have absolutely no interest in biology. I only took the general biology course because it was a general education class that fulfilled the math and science requirement. I didn't really care about the information in the class at the time, but it actually turned out to be helpful.

In biology, we learned theories about how the Earth was formed and how early life evolved. The concepts that I learned in the class have ended up helping me in my current philosophy class, Theories and Problems of Reality.

In the class, we read and discussed the "Anthropic Teleological Argument" by Betty and Cordell, which proposed a theory about the existence of God that was, in part, based around scientific evidence from the beginning of Earth.

If not for taking general biology, I would have had no idea what was going on. But, because I had already learned the concept, albeit from a different perspective, I was able to incorporate my previous knowledge into the philosophical arguments.

"General education is the context that gives the major its point," Gorman said. "Majoring in a discipline is the capstone of general education, the place where the knowledge and skills gained in other courses will, ideally, be integrated."

Students may want to just focus on classes for their major, which they hope will prepare them for a job, but that misses the point of a college education.

Without general education classes, college would just be job training.

But college is about more than that; it's about helping students become intelligent and educated people. You might not think that your theater or art history classes are that important, but if they inspire you to see a play or appreciate a piece of art in the future, isn't that valuable?

An introductory freshman English class might seem useless now, but by the time you graduate, you'll be able to write competent sentences and express yourself clearly because of the skills you learned in that class.

General education classes should be required because they are produce students that can think, learn and excel in a number of areas, not just one particular field.

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