Despite flaws, GenEd classes serve everyone

Illustration by Sarah Bradbury

By Can Altunkaynak

Globalization made it  so people from vastly different backgrounds can end up in similar social and professional circles. You can be the only artist in a room of engineers if you are working in a theatre or be a professional swimmer visiting a foreign country in which people do not speak English. Maybe the love of your life will have a profession that is different than yours. We do not always know the social or professional environment we will end up in. This is why General Education (GenEd) requirements are helpful as they ensure that we have a broad range of skills and perspectives.

GenEd requirements are a set of classes we are expected to choose from in different disciplines. In this sense, they are one of the most important things we have in common: the cornerstones of the diploma we will have at the end of our college experience. This means that we are not just a college in which students go in and out of their classes to obtain a diploma to get a job, but rather a place with shared values and character.

That being said, let’s explore what an ideal LC student is like based on GenEd. According to LC’s website, “Lewis & Clark’s General Education requirements consist of the Core course (Exploration & Discovery) and courses in international studies, scientific and quantitative reasoning, creative arts, some language other than English and physical education/activity.”

The most well-known class of those is Exploration & Discovery (E&D). Even though I have heard many people complaining about the function of E&D, I feel like it is essential not only because we are reading crucial books about the world and the U.S. but also because we read those books with everyone else at LC. While students’ opinions about these books are very subjective, I am sure everyone has bonded with someone else over the course of the first weeks of college by talking about the books — whether those comments be positive or negative.

That being said, GenEd is not perfect. It can be challenging for students who do not excel in certain areas. I have seen students worried about math and science classes because the class could potentially lower their GPA. I personally would be really angry if I am getting a lower GPA than I expected just because I had to take a class I did not want to take.

Another problem with GenEd is that it can feel like it is taking up credits, especially if you are going to double-major. On top of this, if you want to study abroad, I suggest that you decide what you want to double major in quickly. This was something I dwelt  on a lot during the summer before I came to LC. I wanted to study and do lots of things in college but had very limited credits to fit everything in. Imagine a boy, worrying about his classes and credits even before being physically present at his college. The endless possibilities and the inflexible credit system for double major plus overseas study made me worried even though I was not yet a freshman.

Hence, I believe that these problems with GenEd need to be addressed as double major students are having a difficult time fulfilling their GenEd requirements and exploring the broad opportunities that a liberal arts college offer. Evaluating GenEd requirements can be confusing as it is a standard model offered to LC students that are from diverse backgrounds who have different likes and dislikes. Still, GenEd requirements help create a community by interacting with people from different backgrounds, interests and majors to synthesize something unique that in the future will help us in different areas of our lives.

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