Students Impervious to the Purpose of General Education Courses

Education in the United States is characterized by general education courses. Unlike other countries around the world that focus on only classes that pertain to a student’s degree, the United States stresses courses that are not directly linked to a student’s future career. Several international students have asked, what is the purpose of these general education courses?

Though universities may disagree on what subjects make up the fundamental principles of education, a general education in addition to a student’s chosen degree path is essentially to help a student reach a particular level of well-roundedness. A well-rounded individual is one that retains the basic knowledge of various areas, including but not limited to basic math, science, literature, history, etc.

We are not adept at succeeding in all fields of study. This is understandable. The university’s desire to make us well-rounded individuals is also a valid goal. However, students’ desire to learn and their decision to excel in an area that is not their specialty is completely dependent on them.

I applaud those that do indeed excel in many distinct subjects. However, how many graduating individuals are actually well-rounded? Of course, to measure this would be quite difficult, so let’s take into account Lindenwood University students and the general education courses they take.

Business majors are encouraged to take a foreign language introductory course. Not all of these students are actually interested in learning a foreign language, especially those that are international and already fluently speak two or three languages. Becoming fluent in another language is not a primary goal, so they do what they have to in order to pass the course with a decent grade.

The same can be said in many cases. Students will do the minimum required to pass a course that is not of much relevance to their personal curriculum. Science, a subject I particularly avoid whenever I am able to, is a class I am not going to put my best effort into. It’s not a matter of important versus insignificant. It is simply my choice to focus more on classes that are going to help me in my career. It is not an admirable choice per se, but it’s reflective of this generation’s message to the general education classes of a university course load.

This is what Generation Y has to say about general education courses:

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