Opinion: Why ‘Gen Ed’ credits need to become a thing of the past

Maggie Wachtel

General Education or “Gen Ed” credits are something that is a requirement at colleges across America. Here at Kent State, we call them Kent Core classes. All students are required to have six credit hours of composition: three of math, nine of humanities and fine arts, six of social sciences, six to seven of Basic Sciences and six hours of additional courses.

All together, that adds up to be 36-37 credit hours worth of Kent Core classes. If you figure that the average Kent State student takes 15 credit hours a semester, which adds up to 30 hours per school year, students are spending 2 1/2 of their eight semesters taking Gen Ed classes, and it’s ridiculous.

By the time students make it to college, they’ve already taken many so-called Gen Ed classes in high school. They have spent the last four years in general English, science and math classes only to come to college and learn that they have to take another 2 1/2 semesters worth of them, even if it doesn’t apply to their major.

Gen Ed classes can also become quite frustrating to students who do not major in that subject. Getting a poor grade in a class that has little or nothing to do with your major or minor can be discouraging and hurt a student’s chance of advancing further or getting accepted into their major program.

As a magazine journalism major, I had to endure a whole year’s worth of math my freshman year, including taking Algebra 3 using the ALEKS online program. I was fortunate that I managed to finish it and pass in a half semester and move onto Modeling Algebra. It seems silly to have to take a whole year’s worth of math when it doesn’t even apply to my major in the slightest.

I am spending nearly $4,200 on my six classes for the Fall 2014 semester, and four of those six classes are Kent Core requirements. Cutting some of the requirements in half would be beneficial to all students. It would also cut the cost of classes dramatically.  I’m not saying Gen Ed classes need to be removed all together, but the required credit hours need to be lowered.

Ideally, schools should change the requirements so students have to take at least one class in each section described above, but making them take more than that feels like overkill. College is a time when you should be focusing on your desired major, not memorizing random information that you’re not going to use later in life.

Maggie Wachtel is a sophomore journalism major and a columnist for the Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].