Re-Evaluating the General Education Curriculum

Tyler Leahy
Opinions Editor

 

 

 

As a graduating senior, the reflection period of my final semester at Springfield College is in full swing. Not without a healthy dose of lassitude, of course.

After thinking about it a lot, I will not complain about what I believe to be my least favorite part of the undergraduate experience:  the dreaded general education requirements. Every college kid gripes about the trivial prioritization involved.

There will be a general education curriculum, and it does serve a tenable purpose, as being well-rounded is an important piece of self-betterment. Instead of arguing against it, I want to make a suggestion for the future.

Springfield College should shed PEACs from its requirements. A school that attracts athletes does not need to require them to take a beefed-up high school gym class given a specific focus. I understand that movement is important to wellness and that leadership skills are gained from sporting opportunities. Six half-credit gym courses, though?

Every student has their own gripes with courses they view to be relatively pointless. Most classes have their merit, but some still come into question, especially when expensive textbooks are a component.  I consider most of the courses offered at Springfield

College to have some benefit, but courses like Wellness: A Way of Life had me scratching my head. Why not focus on something that will professionally develop students rather than necessitating a health class that retreads what high school students learn as freshmen?

Courses focusing on career skills could easily fill those credits. Springfield College offers a variety of helpful career building services, including the Career Center. I myself have taken advantage of a lot of their resources.

However, I feel that in today’s economy, I would have liked to spend more time preparing for the uncertainty of navigating a changing job market. College students today are shelling out top dollars, often leaving unprepared to market themselves through a challenging financial landscape, even if they have marketable skills in their desired job field.

The days of guaranteed salary jobs post-graduation for college students have been gone for decades. I won’t pretend that I worked as hard as I could in order to set up myself for success. Like most students, there were some courses that I took lightly.

I did have shining moments, and I do feel employable. Despite this, there is the uneasy feeling of being someone whose work experience includes internships, on-campus jobs, and working at the butcher shop of a grocery store. Looking for a modestly-paying full-time job feels a little daunting. I have skills, I am a respectful person, but the career life is uncharted territory. I wish there was class time dedicated to.

Securing that first career job is pertinent to catapulting into a new stage of life. I’m sure I’m not the only graduating senior that wants to do well for themselves but does not have a clear-cut path to the success they are searching for.

I know I want to work hard and find the right path, but don’t have specific long-term goals. I know I have the long-term goals of someday riding in a hot air balloon or catching up-to-date on Entourage. In terms of a career, well, that’s different.

Many of the experiences the Career Center offers could be expanded on in the core curriculum, such as networking skills and self-marketing. There are courses for potential teachers to prepare for MTEL exams. There are courses for potential grad students to prepare for the GRE. Surely, there are business courses that could help with career preparation.

With that said, I think it would be better served to include it as part of the general education requirements. Every student studying to be in a career field that is overcrowded fears living with their parents until they are twenty-five, even if they have set themselves up for success. Why not address that rather than forcing students on an already health-conscious campus to take physical education and health courses?

In essence, the solution isn’t simply a copy-and-paste strategy to rid some classes and replace them with different ones. As an athletics-based school, I know some see physical and health education as part of the institution’s identity. Simply put, the general education curriculum should be reevaluated.

Perhaps it would be found that it can be retooled, or trimmed to require students to make more major-specific courses in order to prepare them for their profession. I’m in favor of there being a somewhat intensive general education curriculum like there is now. I simply think that with its current configuration, students are often left feeling disappointed.

The general education curriculum accounts for a third of the credits required to graduate. When looking at it this way, it is hard to conceive the worth of these credits, especially for young people looking not only to learn, but also to prepare for a professional career.

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