Column: The worst thing about coming to college isn’t the sleep deprivation, the mediocre food or immense amounts of people: it’s having to retake algebra
A certain amount of general education credits are necessary for every freshman and sophomore before they are able to focus on their intended major. The cost and the required amount of classes needed to be taken is questionable and frustrating.
Apr. 03, 2019
The opinions expressed by The Maneater columnists do not represent the opinions of The Maneater editorial board.
Olivia Apostolovski is a freshman pre-journalism major at MU. She is an opinion columnist who writes about social issues for the Maneater.
General education courses are classes that many freshmen may not dread taking at first. Once the classes start, however, they are the most time-consuming and frustrating classes to be taken.
Personally, I didn’t mind my general education courses at first, but as my first semester progressed, I slowly began wondering why I needed to take classical mythology and geology, especially as a journalism major. This coupled with the fact that I only had one journalism course, one that was only eight weeks might I add, meant that all the credits I accumulated had relatively nothing to do with my major.
The frustration with general education courses is the fact that students at MU, we are required to take 27 credit hours of classes in behavioral/social science, humanities and/or fine arts, biological and physical science or mathematical science. Additional courses must be taken that include American history or government, math proficiency, a writing intensive course and then to finish it all off, students must complete a capstone that follows the students’ major, meaning that the total amount of general education credits would be closer to 36, assuming the three additional courses were each three credits.
However, it usually ends up being more than 36 credit hours, considering that by the end of sophomore year, students should have 60 credit hours underneath their belt. On top of this, certain courses need to be taken as prerequisites. Taking classes becomes a linear process with no ability to speed up, unless a student came in with transfer credits.
Cost is a large factor as well — for undergraduates that are Missouri residents the cost per credit hour is around $284.80, while nonresident undergraduate students have to pay $856.90. This is a startling difference and when multiplying both of these totals times 36, the differences are staggering. Missouri residents will have to pay $10,252.80, compared to the nonresident rate of $30,848.40.
I am also keeping in mind that many students will chose to go from nonresident students to gaining their residency over a summer to significantly decrease the price per credit hour. However, students will take 27 credit hours, if not more, between two semesters so that price will sadly still be applicable.
There are many factors to take into account for general education courses however, sometimes they have necessary courses that will benefit majors, such as social sciences and sciences classes for STEM majors and languages for English students. These combinations all make sense because in one way, shape or form, the skills learned from those courses can be utilized. However, it does not make sense for students to have to have credits in classes that will never be beneficial in real life.
Some general education courses for students should be mandatory, like government, economics and psychology, all because they will and could be applicable to real life. You could educate yourself about all of these topics online as well, but taking classes will give you a foundation of knowledge.
While a few of these courses are beneficial and useful for certain majors, (depending on what they are) the real issue is that if we were not forced to finish a certain amount of general education courses, most students would be able to get their degrees faster. 36 credit hours is roughly around three semesters of work, and if students were not required to have that many general education courses, there would be more emphasis on their majors instead of classes that may not prove beneficial in the future.
Another problem with general education courses is that some of them have been deemed “weed-out classes” by many students, meaning that either that the material is not taught to the students thoroughly enough or the material is too difficult to understand. These classes are intended to frustrate the students but at the same time, they will give the university more money. Many students will fail and as a result, they will have to take another class in order to make up for the credits they did not receive. Because of this, many students will fail the class or classes and will be behind on credit hours because of it, having wasted hundreds or thousands of dollars on a course that set them up to fail.
College courses are difficult as is, and I believe that even as entering college as a freshman there should be more emphasis and focus on your major from the very beginning. This would allow students to graduate faster and could possibly increase retention rates if students were not forced to take difficult classes that do not benefit their progress toward a desired degree path.