The Foundation of any degree
Written by Patrick McGraw
College can be a strange place for many students. An Adventist college may feel especially uncomfortable to freshmen just out of Adventist academies, as well as those from non-Adventist schools who are experiencing one for the first time.
Some of us are at Southern Adventist University because our parents sent us here, or because our friends are attending, or because we want to learn in a Christian environment. But, ultimately, we’re all here because we want to spend a little bit of our time (and a lot of our money) to hopefully walk away with something worthwhile.
That thing, of course, is an education—one that will hopefully open up a lot of long-term opportunities in our futures. An education is important, and general education is the foundation that the rest of learning is built upon. You can’t have college without general education.
I am reminded of an analogy my high school Spanish teacher used to make: “Every skill you learn is a tool that goes into your skill bag. Each of those will help you get where you need to be in life. The more skills that you have, the more opportunities you’ll be able to create for yourself.”
It is definitely possible for a school to churn out people who have received an education in one specific subject, but that is not the goal. The goal is to produce individuals who have a comprehensive education and a well-rounded set of skills in addition to the subject they’ve chosen to study.
Your general education courses may seem totally irrelevant to your major, but they teach you skills that are necessary across all disciplines. We take public speaking classes because no matter the major, we will need to communicate with others. We take English classes because regardless of whether we’re writers by nature, we will eventually need to write. We take fitness classes because irrespective of what we study, it’s important to take care of our bodies. These things may not seem relevant to your major, but they are nonetheless relevant to you. All of the skills you learn in your general courses are skills that will benefit you for the rest of your life.
Stop wasting my time, Gen Ed.
Written by Kaitlyn Deaux
Almost as soon as a child can speak, one of the first questions they are asked is: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” They may begin to formulate ambitious responses, such as “an astronaut” or “a pop star.” However, as the child grows, so does the weight of this question. And, as they mature and gain experience, their initial hopes may change.
By the time their senior year of high school rolls around, most students have chosen a career path, even if it’s subject to change in the future. For those who are undecided, general studies exist in their favor. Nonetheless, general studies are an unnecessary hassle for decided majors because of additional stress and lack of time.
In my experience, I have often found that I end up doing more work for general courses than I do for the classes that pertain to my major. Being a social work major, I would rather spend my time perfecting interviewing skills than writing paper after paper on religious books that I will likely forget in 10 years. I believe that a wide variety of classes can give a student more experience in a range of subjects; however, more classes also require more money. A lot of students lean on financial aid in order to make it through college, so being able to spend less on courses could save them from paying off more student loan debt at a later time.
Regarding current stress, I am aware that I could choose to spread out my general studies over the next few years, but I would rather get them out of the way as soon as possible so that I can focus on my future career.
As I have four years left at Southern Adventist University, I would rather not spend the first two or three years of my college experience completing general studies. There are many other classes related to my major that I would love to take but I cannot fit them into my schedule because of required general courses. Such became my experience this semester. My current course-load revolves around accumulating credit and finishing my general studies, which means I only have room for one official social work course. More time spent in these classes means less time for self-care, less time for study within my own major, and less bonding opportunities with friends and family. I feel like I am in high school again and only focused on graduating. While I don’t want to spend more years in school, I also do not want to rush my time in college either.
Ultimately, general studies add stress to, and take time away from, students with decided majors. Although general courses could be a wonderful alternative for the undecided, I would much rather spend my college years focused on classes within my major. College students only have so much time to sit through classes, complete homework, practice self-care, and socialize in a 24-hour period. I believe that decided majors should have the freedom to pursue their major specifically. After years of crafting the perfect response to the age-old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up,” we are no longer children. We have become adults with purpose, and we are ready to pursue our careers.