Why A General Education
Every college student is forced or encouraged to take a bunch of general education classes that are unrelated to his/her major. There are administrators on both side of the argument, lobbying for their case, according to an article in the Washington Post.
One group, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, has been compiling research to argue for its case. It found that many colleges require three or fewer of the basic subjects, such as math, science, foreign language, composition, the fundaments of U.S. history, economics, literature, composition, etc.
The group analyzed 1,007 colleges and found that three fifths of those schools do not require seven of the basic subjects. This was its third annual report, titled What Will They Learn?
The group is simply trying to prove that colleges do not require students to learn essential subjects, and thus they graduate lacking a broad education.
It argues that colleges are becoming too lax and letting students study whatever they want. They are no longer forcing students to learn general education classes – instead they are giving students too much freedom in selecting a curriculum.
According to this group, colleges only guide students through “distribution requirements,” in which students can select from a certain number of courses in each of the several broad areas of education. However, most students always take the easiest, lowest-level classes.
Then there are administrators who do not believe in a broad general education system, and many of them have already stated that this system is flawed; however, few have made strides to improve it.
They argue that the whole system of general education is tainted by politics. Department heads (a college’s head of the English Department) never want their classes to be optional. They all want to make the required list. Colleges have to make sure their department heads are happy; so every department becomes required for every major.
This simply makes college less specialized to what’s important for a students’ future career and longer/more expensive.
Generally speaking, most colleges are leaning toward a more specialized education either because it’s more beneficial to a student’s career plans or because it’s what the student wants.
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni’s study found that only 5 percent of colleges surveyed required economics as a field as study, about 20 percent required U.S. government or history and 15 percent required intermediate-level foreign language.
The report also found that only about 19 schools required six or more of the seven subjects. Three of which are military academies.