Why Do Colleges Make You Take General Education Courses?

Student with backpack

Whether you are fresh out of high school and looking at colleges, or you are looking to return to university after time spent in the working world, you may still have the same questions and concerns. One of these most often expressed by students is: why do I have to spend so much time on general education courses?

You want to pursue computer science, so why should you have to study art history? You want to be a graphic designer, so why do you need algebra?

Actually, general education courses do play an important part in your educational development. Here we give you five major reasons why general education is important for your overall course of study, plus a few tips on how to get these classes done as efficiently as possible.

1. It Takes A While to Learn How to Learn

For students just beginning college, there is a lot of culture shock. There are people to meet, forms to fill in, and books to purchase. It is not unusual for students to take some time getting the hang of things.

Whether you are right out of high school or an adult student, you may not be used to how professors give homework, or how they expect assignments to be carried out.

Many new students take some time to get their bearings. General education gives you a chance to learn the basics. It takes a while to learn how to follow directions.

Your Freshmen English class will set the foundation for you learning how to write, including how to get things done by a deadline and using primary materials. Your basic mathematics class will give you the groundwork to make projections for your future startup or estimate your possible mortgage payments on your new house.

You may need more help in some areas than others, especially if you are coming back to school after a break. Some online options can help you move through the general education requirements more quickly so you can focus on things you really want to concentrate on.

2. You Never Know What the Future Holds

It is hard to predict what could happen to your career. If you are 18, you have no idea where you will be when you are 30 or 40. If you are an adult, once you get your degree you may get a job offer that is beyond your wildest dreams, in a field you never even considered before.

You may begrudge taking a science class now, but in the future, you may need to know how to analyze data or make a prediction based on trends.

You may hate writing, but in a few decades, investors may expect an annual report from your company. You may need to write a speech or give a presentation. You will want to impress people with your communication skills.

General education can prepare you for a future you cannot predict. Take advantage of it.

3. Time Management is Key

College teaches more than just the content of its courses. You will learn how to face challenges, resolve conflicts, and perform under pressure.

Many new students flounder at first without a teacher or parent hovering over them, reminding them to do their homework. Learning how to juggle academic and other obligations can have a steep learning curve.

If you are pursuing school in addition to a job or parenting, you have to excel at time management. You may already have a handle on it if you are a few years out of school, holding down a job and a family, and used to managing a multitude of tasks.

If you are already skilled at time management, you may be able to apply those skills to your educational path. You may find that gaining a few general education credits through online programs will save time and money.

4. Good Writing Opens Many Doors

General education classes in the humanities will help you hone writing skills that will be used throughout your life and career, no matter what field you pursue.

You may need basic Gen Ed English classes in order to qualify for higher level classes in subjects you need for your degree. It's required for everything from Marketing to Journalism to Teaching.

Even if you never read a piece of 19th-century literature again, learning how to read challenging materials comes in handy in a wide range of professions. In many jobs, you may be asked to "translate" complicated processes into layman's English for other audiences. You will use the same tools you learned trying to figure out that passage by Jane Bronte and writing an essay on it.

If English is your second language, these general education courses are especially important in helping you get a firm grasp on this tricky tongue. The more you write, read and speak English, the better off you will be in the US. job market.

5. Gen Ed Can Be Accomplished Many Ways

Just because general education classes are necessary, that does not mean you have to take them in the traditional manner. You may not have the time or inclination to sit in a classroom with students fifteen years younger than you.

Luckily, many schools accept Gen Ed credits attained through an online provider. You may be able to take classes at home on your own schedule and proceed to college at an accelerated rate.

Getting online credits may allow you to register for higher level courses more focused on your chosen field. This is especially helpful to students on a budget. If you can get some of these basic classes under your belt on your own time at home, you can save your tuition dollars for the classes and professors you are especially interested in.

Some colleges also allow for "real life" experience to be given academic credit. Contact the school to see if your professional or volunteer work might qualify.

General Education Courses: Essential for Your Upward Development

General education classes may not be the most exciting prospect of your continuing education, but they can be accomplished quickly and efficiently. They are the important building blocks to your future, so make sure you don't skip over them. You may enjoy them more than you think!

For more information on online options for general education courses, contact us.

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