Institutions should diversify general education requirements

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

People often consider a bachelor’s degree as necessary to a student’s career — a stepping stone for future success and career paths. Through the past five decades, however, the degrees students have obtained have become increasingly polarized: Students are specializing, studying in particular subject areas for postgraduate plans. General education requirements, which are set into the requisites as a threshold for graduation, have since dwindled in importance.

Many institutions have yet to address this trend, and students are realizing that general education requirements are more of an obligation than an opportunity. Many fail to realize the significance of studying other disciplines and the elusiveness of generating a well-rounded student.

What needs to change in many institutions, including Pitt, is the approach advisers, professors and administrations take to diversify and reinvigorate general education requirements. Students should feel optimistic and eager to learn about other curriculums instead of approaching classes focused on nothing but the end of the semester.

First, the administration has to take a deeper look at what requirements students should fulfill depending on the school or department relevant to their major. Rather than providing an umbrella requirement list for each school in a university, department heads should look into creating requirements that are better tailored to that subject area. While it might seem as though doing just that would contribute to the problem at hand, by creating different requirements for each particular major in an institution, students would have a better idea of what they want to pursue.

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