Why Do I Have to Take General Education Courses?

By Ana Carolina Aguiar

Everyone has had a friend who complains about taking a class that is unrelated to their degree. Maybe even a friend who didn’t pay attention in a class because it was only an obligation to graduate. Let’s be honest: you were probably that friend at one point.

Going through this experience is just a part of college. General education courses are required, whether we like it or not. These courses are the first step toward getting your degree. 

Gen Ed courses, also known as core curriculum, are the foundation of an undergraduate degree. According to Unbound, a website by Pearson Education, most general education requirements cover about 42 to 60 college credits per semester, which is about one-third to half of a bachelor's degree. 

Usually, these classes are English, mathematics, natural sciences, social sciences and humanities.

Image Credit to Best Value Schools

However, the question all students are asking is: are general education classes necessary for a college education? 

Dr. Gloria Schaab is a professor of theology, chair of the department of theology and philosophy, and the associate dean for general education. She believes general education courses are necessary for students.

“General education courses challenge students to develop critical and creative thinking and to engage the diversity of thought and perspectives represented not only by the arts, humanities, and sciences, but also by students and professors of different disciplines, backgrounds, experiences, and values,” said Dr. Schaab. 

Dr. Schaab also explains that as a liberal arts institution, Barry provides a comprehensive education to students. This education “addresses all aspects of the human person,” according to Dr. Schaab.

She believes general education courses achieve this.

In response to the idea that general education courses do not fit into student’s respective disciplines, Dr. Schaab notes that students do not live their lives within the boundaries of one discipline.

Image Credit to EN_Hans-Peter Becker

“[We live in] an increasingly complex world that demands innovative, effective, and ethical responses to a wide variety of questions and problems,” said Dr. Schaab. 

She believes the general education experience helps students with their responses to these problems. 

“[General education] stimulates the individual and communal transformation that leads our students to informed action, social justice, and collaborative service that is central to the mission of Barry University and that is needed by the world in which we live,” she said.

Liam Bouza, a sophomore English and theater student, agrees.