Are general education classes worth the time?

Learning basic concepts again can often seem like a waste


Written By Sara Cronin, Staff Writer

General education classes.We all know what they are and we all seem to hate them – especially when they have nothing to do with our major. Anything from a math class, a history class or even a science class – you name it.

Taking classes that are unrelated to your major can not only feel like a waste of time, but also a waste of money. Why pay thousands of dollars to a college or university only to learn something that is either irrelevant or has already been learned in high school?

As a photojournalism major, at times I do not understand why it should be required for me to take a math class, or why I would need to know how to solve rational equations.

I took four years of math in high school, shouldn’t that be enough? What about all of those required math tests I took? Shouldn’t those count for something?

Taking these core classes can have advantages and disadvantages. These classes might expose you to a topic you wouldn’t have expected yourself to enjoy. For example, if you take an art history class, it may allow you to find a hidden inner passion you had for the subject and may even lead you to consider it as a minor.

I realize everyone needs to know basic math, basic writing skills and even the concepts of the water cycle, no matter what your major is. Even if you don’t believe it now, a basic math class or an English 101 could be more beneficial than you once thought.

You may feel you have taken more than enough math classes or English classes in high school. However, a college level writing class will ensure you have the level of writing skills that will actually be beneficial to the rest of your college career and adult life.

For example, the writing class you may have taken in high school probably taught you how to write haikus and analyze books written during the Regency era, but your college English 101 class will teach you how to write well-structured or comprehensive essays and papers which will actually be helpful in not only your future classes, but also in your future career.

However, the disadvantages of general education classes are always going to be argued. While exposure can lead to a newly found niche, it seems pointless for a math major to sit in an English class to learn about rhetorical devices, when instead it would be more relevant for them to learn about exponential functions, and how to carry the two and divide twice and whatever else it is that math majors do.

I know that once you get into college, it’s usually a relief to most students to finally be able to take classes that you have always found interesting and to pursue your dream career or interest.

However, it may be worth sitting through a class that is completely unrelated to your major after all. In fact, you may even surprise yourself with how well you perform in the class, and even though you may not see it yet how much that class will benefit your future.

So even though I’m a photojournalism major, and yes I hate math, it may in fact be relevant to learn about rational equations as much as I would rather not.

Luckily, students have the option through the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) to test out of a course and receive those credits for any 33 exams. Students need to score at least a 50 to receive credit. However, students must complete these exams before the end of their sophomore term, when students have 59 credits or less. Students with 60 or more credits are ineligible for the CLEP.

If the test out option is given, a semester-long general education class could be replaced with a class that is more practical to the major, and could even promote earlier graduation time.

Saving time and money, what could be better?