Spending anywhere from $70,000 to $240,000 or more for a total of at least 112 weeks on a college education is not only considered a norm in today’s society, but is required if you want to become successful in the real world. Most people actually end up spending even more money and more time by attending graduate school. This system was originally designed because it is believed that teenagers and young adults need time for their brains to develop before choosing a life-long career. Do not get me wrong, in no way do I believe that everyone knows exactly what he or she wants to do at age 18, and that’s perfectly fine. However, I do believe that spending all that time and money on either a specific subject or figuring out which subject you want to study is a complete waste.
The problem is not necessarily the money or even the time; the problem is the material we learn when spending this huge amount of money. A majority of the classes I will take as a freshman broadcasting major won’t help me at all when I graduate. Why does a broadcasting major or a fine arts major need to learn math? Or even better, why does anyone need to learn calculus unless it specifically relates to his or her career choice? The answer is, they don’t.
So am I saying that we should take away all Gen-Ed courses? Of course not. What I am saying is that we should make Gen-Ed courses optional, not mandatory, and we should only require students to take classes specifically tailored to their major. This way, less time will be used and less money will be spent while we are actually learning more. Plus, if less time is spent then we will have a chance to get into the real world as soon as possible and learn more from experience rather than from irrelevant classes.
It is also safe to say that having mandatory Gen-Eds can actually hurt a student. How is this possible? Let’s say Sally is a journalism major and 19-year-old Sally’s dream is to become an opinion columnist for the New York Times. I think everyone would agree that the best way for Sally to achieve that goal is to spend every day of her college career learning about the ins and outs of being a columnist. Maybe she could do this by taking classes specifically about being an opinion writer and also writing for The Oswegonian. But sadly, Sally’s school requires her to take Spanish, math, science, and many other classes that don’t apply to becoming an opinion columnist. So poor Sally doesn’t have enough time to commit to write every week for the newspaper or learn everything there is about being a journalist. She spends most of college being stressed, losing sleep, and being bored in class until she finally becomes a junior and gets to start taking more classes about being a journalist. Eventually, she makes it into the professional world and becomes a writer for the New York Times. The sad part, however, is that Sally still has to pay her student loans for the next few decades.
Without unnecessary Gen-Eds, Sally could have saved a lot of money, stress and time and probably would have had a much easier and successful life. Maybe Sally would have had time to read books and go on Google more often, as mentioned before, if she didn’t have to focus on her Gen-Eds. Now that is all projection, but as a college student who wants to have a career in the media and entertainment business, I know for a fact I would be a lot better off if I spent as much time at WTOP, The Oswegonian and WNYO as I do worrying about math and Spanish.