Liberal studies requirements enrich the quality of a degree

Published by adviser, Author: The Rocket Staff, Date: November 9, 2012

It’s scheduling season again for students at Slippery Rock University, and the never-changing list of complaints from students once again seem to be filling the halls and dorms across campus.

While some grumbles are certainly warranted, one specific complaint many students often vent about is just wrong. The requirement to take liberal studies courses strikes a nerve with many students, but those courses allow for students to graduate with a diverse knowledge of the world, rather than just learning a specific trade.

English majors question why they need to take math courses, math majors wonder why they need writing. Every major has the students who question the need of public speaking.

Not every course  necessarily relates to one’s academic degree, but that does not make them less valuable.

Adding a variety of subjects to a curriculum is the only way to broaden student’s knowledge of the world around them. SRU isn’t a technical school where students come to learn a trade. A university should provide an education across all subjects, including math, science, and writing. Considering the lackluster standards and performance high schools require for graduation, a strong liberal studies program is important to ensure students enter the “real world” with a solid understanding of general topics.

In fact, while SRU does a fairly decent job in its requirements of liberal studies courses, but the program can certainly be improved. It is not too difficult to make it through to graduation without ever taking a math class that requires even the simplest of addition and subtraction. Actually, some would argue it is harder to enroll in a lower level math course than it is to find a way around taking one altogether. That needs to be changed.

The school does not need to necessarily increase the number of liberal studies courses taken, as there is a fairly good balance in credit hours. But a better, more consistent, set of requirements would ensure that every student leaves with at least a basic understanding of different fields of academics.

A foreign language requirement and a better emphasis on some sort of U.S. history class would  improve the educational experience here.

But moving past any improvements the school could make, students need to realize that becoming more educated in areas outside of their major is vital to them being truly educated citizens.

Complaining about having to take courses is ridiculous. To start with, most liberal studies courses students need to take are lower level, so any effort should easily result in a passing grade. Secondly, students should know before enrolling in the university that liberal studies programs are required, so there’s really no surprise to what is expected of them.

If you want a specialized focus in your main field of study, go to graduate school. Until then, accept the fact that a four year liberal studies university is going to require you to take liberal studies courses. It’s for your own good, and will certainly be worth it in the end.


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