Editorial: Why Do We Have to Take This?

Brett Loftis

            “Why do I have to register for this class?”

This is the most often-asked question at Piedmont College for students registering for classes.  As for most good questions, there are not a lot of good answers for this question.

            In order to receive and graduate with a 120-credit hour undergraduate degree from Piedmont College, students must take credit hours of general education classes.  The following subjects are the requirements for general education: 9 credit hours of communication class, 12 credit hours of humanity and arts, 9 credit hours of social sciences, 3 credit hours of math, 4 credit hours of natural sciences, 3 credit hours of ethics.  For many students, some, if not most, of these subject clusters do not apply whatsoever to what their majors are.  So, again, why do we have to take these classes?

            Most college students attend college for an average of eight semesters, which equates out to four school years. An average course load for a college student is 15 credit hours per semester.  Therefore, almost three out of the eight semesters that students are in college are dedicated to classes that are not even remotely tied into their major.  Students are taking classes that will not help take them further in their careers.  If anything, these classes are encouraging students to regress in life.  While a nursing student is stuck sitting in an American History class, they could be learning more about their own major. Are general education classes encouraging a well-rounded education or stopping students from maximizing themselves in their major?

            If students did not have to take  credit hours of general education classes, they could also graduate at a faster pace.  Students could finish their degree in four to five semesters, compared to the average six to eight semesters that it takes students right now. This would help cut down on the large student debt in our general population, help give students more knowledge about their majors and even help students have more “in the field” experience in their field.  All of these factors would then lead to greater success upon graduation and improve the quality of workers in society today. 

            All in all, there are no answers that can be given to Piedmont’s student population to why we have to take these classes, except that these classes give us a “well-rounded education.”  However, what does a “well-rounded education” do for someone in the real world? Does it help them land their first job?  Does it help them when working in their field of study?  Maybe general education classes help students become more “well-rounded” as a person, but that  does not help them become a well-rounded employee, because it took away from the time that students could have spent learning within their own major.  This is an issue not only at Piedmont College, but at institutions across the nation.  That leads to one final question: when will this be changed?


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