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Evaluation of General Education Requirements: From Baby Toes to Large Phalanges

From the time you start to stand on your own small feet while trying to say “dada,” you’re already beginning the process of learning. After this point, you go to elementary school, middle school, high school, and now you’re in college. Elbert Hubbard, an American author and editor, stated that, “Education is a form of self delusion” (Simanek). Essentially, having a degree in Physics won’t make you Albert Einstein. In society today, education has become more about specialization. Most of my colleagues had the notion that college would offer courses solely pertaining to their major. While this is a disappointment to many, having a well rounded education will be more valuable to students in the future. A policy most universities follow is that concerning general education requirements. The University of South Florida, in particular, allows you to declare your major once you’ve taken two years worth of general education credits along with summer hours.

You may be wondering why you’re in an English Composition class. You may not write as much after this course as you will during this year, but when you get into your major, you will eventually have to write about your field of study. The book Graduate and Continuing Education for Community College Leaders: What it Means Today discusses that “[students] today must produce their own letters, reports, and scholarly manuscripts…obvious errors stand out in written documents” (Palmer and Katsinas 29). If you write a paper concerning Biology, but you can’t spell “deoxyribonucleic acid”, no one will take you seriously. When you don’t know if something is beneficial or not, you can always evaluate it. Evaluations arguments are essential that you will be able to distinguish if some things like the general education requirements are good if they meet certain criteria (Ramage, Bean, and Johnson 290). The general education requirement policy at USF is a good rule because it meets the criteria of being well rounded in terms of core subjects, differentiated interests, and job requirements.

In order to stand tall, you need a good foundation. At USF the university focuses on core subjects in order for you to have a well rounded education. In an article entitled “A Core Curriculum for Tomorrow’s Citizens” written for the Chronicle Review, the author discusses the importance of college students and their understanding of the values core values of America (Lewis B20). Lewis says that although students today are diverse “they will all be citizens” (B20). In being a citizen, we have to be educated in what our freedoms are and what our country was founded on (Lewis B20). This may seem irrelevant to core subjects in college, but in order to declare ourselves as intelligent adults and have the sufficient power to reason, we need to know how to write papers, solve math problems, and debate arguments. By having a well rounded education concerning these general requirements, we’re able to prove to any adult or official that we can be the future leaders and law makers. In the University of South Florida Strategic plan it states that the university values “student competitiveness, success and academic achievement through knowledge, communication and critical thinking skill acquisition” (Strategic Plan). USF is providing an education where we’ll learn and understand different subjects to the best of our abilities and be able to analyze and question them as well.

In addition to taking core subjects, being well rounded allows for you to discover unknown interests. When I first came into college, I was really set on my desire to become a therapist. It is still an option for me, but now that I’ve taken Intro to Drama and English Composition, I’ve realized that I enjoy writing more than I do Psychology. This being your first year, you may not know which major is the most suitable. In an article entitled “Career Service Offers Programs to Aid Students” it mentions that students change their major at least three times at Central Michigan University (Wilson 1). There are services at USF that help you in this process like the Career Center and Academic advising services.

As well as ascertaining new interests, general education requirements allow you to be well rounded in terms of your future career. My friend John used to work at Radio Shack. He knew everything about computers and how to fix them. He wasn’t, however, so good at talking to customers. At the time he was taking a public speaking class and that gave him the confidence to speak more to those that asked for help. The book Trends in Community College Curriculum discusses that one of the “dimensions” arising from general education requirements is “multicultural study” (Cohen 41). By taking courses where you learn about other cultures, you can impress customers of different ethnicities. Doctors in particular should know about a patients’ cultural and/or religious background to be wary of any phobias or precautions they may encounter from them. By taking courses concerning culture, you will have a better knowledge of people you will work with in the future and thus creating a better working environment.

Even so, the general education requirements policy is not perfect. In the Undergraduate Catalog site entitled “General Education Policy” it states, “All courses listed are certified as meeting the General Education requirement as of April, 1997” (General Education Policy 43). The issue with this is that we’re in the year 2009. It’s been over a decade since they’ve made any drastic changes to this policy. The university has to realize that the concept of education changes over time. My father always spoke about how being in a Liberal Arts College helped him tremendously in life. On the other hand, my cousin who solely focused on computers realized that he needed to know more about a specific field of computers in order to earn a job. Although I’m in support of this policy, the current generation is more focused on specialization. In order to support this change, perhaps USF could reconsider some of their requirements.

I know some of you are frustrated because you feel as though biology has nothing to do with being a third grade teacher or writing has nothing to do with being a Statistician. What you don’t realize is that you’ll probably teach Biology to some degree in third grade, and Statistics requires a lot of reasoning and writing which are two major components of the composition course. In the book entitled Leadership and Management Issues for a New Century the authors mention that “policy and practice based in foundation theoretical and conceptual scholarship and informed by research, assessment, and evaluation is essential” (Woodard, Love, and Komives 58). The University of South Florida has based its requirements policy on fundamental courses that will theoretically help us throughout our lives. You may not be trying to say “dada,” but you’re still beginning to walk on your own two feet only now they contain larger phalanges that make up our digits.

Works Cited
Cohen, Arthur M. Relating Curriculum and Transfer. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1994.
Lewis, Harry R. “A Core Curriculum for Tomorrow’s Citizens.” The Chronicle Review 54 (2007): B20. 4 Mar. 2009 .
“Liberal Arts Requirements.” 1997. 15 Mar. 2009
Palmer, James C. and Stephen G. Katsinas. Graduate and Continuing Education for Community
College Leaders: What it Means Today. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1996.
Ramage, John D., John C. Bean, and June Johnson. Writing Arguments: A Rhetoric with Readings. 7th. New York: Pearson, 2007.
Simanek, Donald. “Quotes on Education.” 4 Mar. 2009
“Transforming Higher Education for Global Innovation Strategic Plan 2007-2012” 4 Mar. 2009 <”
Wilson, Milinda. "Many Students Change Major During College." 13 Feb. 2006. The Independent Voice of Central Michigan University. 4 Mar. 2009 .
Woodard, Dudley B., Patrick Love, and Susan R. Komives. Leadership and Management Issues for a New Century. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2000.

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