The concept of “general education” courses to shape well-rounded students, to eventually become well-rounded employees, has become such an outdated idea, yet the college structure hasn’t updated policies with changing fields.
Some colleges require foreign language/foreign studies courses in order to graduate, regardless of a student’s major. These requirements make sense, as it is very common for countries to work together, making it easier to get a job post-graduation if someone is well-versed in other cultures and languages.
Other requirements, however, have been outgrown in the “real world,” and are no longer necessary in the job fields. Why does a student in the College of Communications and Creative Arts need to take math and lab science classes? Why does a student in Rohrer School of Business need to take an art class?
This concept of “general education” courses shaping well-rounded students for the “real world” has become out-dated. In the past, employees would need to be well-rounded to be able to wear multiple hats within a company. Now, companies seek to hire employees to fit their specific needs, rather than expecting existing employees to fill these needs as they arise.
Some schools, including Rowan, focus more on the need to take courses that aren’t relevant to a student’s field of study, rather than putting more focus on the need to have internships in order to gain experience.
Focusing on internships to gain experience and to learn what specific area of broad fields a student wants to work in post-graduation seem to be more beneficial than focusing on needing to take a random class that won’t really benefit their academic and professional success.
As the “real world” changes, the focus should also change from needing certain “general education” courses and should have internships to should take certain “general education” courses and needing an internship to graduate.
As a senior getting ready to graduate in May, I am taking 16 credits (four classes and an internship) this semester. 10 of those credits (three classes) are “general education” courses I need to pass in order to graduate, and only one of those classes might help me in a job post-graduation. The science lab and art class I’m taking, while they are interesting, will not do much to help me with a public relations degree; they don’t even pertain to my minors (journalism and strategic communication).
At my old college, York College of Pennsylvania, students were required to take two credits of gym classes in order to graduate, so I’m proud to say I took a scuba diving class for college credit. But how is knowing how to safely scuba dive going to help me in future endeavors in my professional career?
Rather than taking these random classes to make myself a “well-rounded student,” I think my time in college, as well as my tuition, would be put to better use if I had been required to take more classes pertaining to my major and minors. And I am a firm believer that students should be required to have internships within their fields before they are required to take classes that will not benefit them in their professional careers.
For questions/comments about this story, email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @TheWhitOnline.