This semester, I dedicated hours every week — in lectures, labs and observation hours — to a class completely and utterly unrelated to my major. I spent precious time, money and energy on The Universe (ASTR 100) to satisfy one of my General Education requirements that I need to graduate — not with a science or math degree, but with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and a minor in journalism.
Does this situation really make sense?
Needless to say, many students have a bone to pick with the General Education requirements. Frustrations run high when students who are already pressed for time and money are forced to take classes that have next to nothing to do with their majors.
The goals of the General Education program are commendable and should be preserved. But it’s time for the program to actually complement the goals of the students that it is meant to serve.
The university should tailor General Education requirements to students’ majors. A re-envisioning of the requirements would show a better understanding of the reality of student life, both before and after graduation.
Writing and math are two forms of communication fundamental to almost every career. We are all required to take writing classes that relate to our chosen disciplines. Why shouldn’t math be treated the same way?
As a Spanish and journalism student, I won’t use what I learned in astronomy after graduation. But what if all journalism students were required to take a statistics class? Journalists need to be able to understand and analyze numbers so they can better communicate the meaning of a study — or any math-related topic — to an audience that might not know statistics.
For majors even further removed from the math and science sphere, such as theatre or fine arts, an introductory accounting or finance course should be required. A basic understanding of finances would prove invaluable for any major after graduation, especially if that major isn’t known for being financially practical.
General Education requirements should include major-specific requirements that complement students’ areas of study. They shouldn’t be mere distractions to the completion of a major.
The General Education Program web page boasts five principal goals that revolve around helping students become well-rounded, well-educated persons armed with a wide range of skills and knowledge. But the program’s last goal, “To encourage a passion for learning,” is the most important. Currently, the program is not fulfilling this goal. I would love to be passionate about astronomy, but I can’t be when I think about the Spanish and journalism classes I could be taking instead.
This shouldn’t be another problem students gripe about year in and year out. Our four years at USC go quickly, and our time here shouldn’t be wasted.
Elena Kadvany is a senior majoring in Spanish.