General education requirements: those minimal-credit classes that we all know and hate. The only reason a music major would suffer through biology with a lab, the only reason anyone would take that obscure class on the evolution of 21st century creativity. Why are these kinds of classes even required? Wouldn’t it make more sense to get rid of all the random, pointless classes? Yes, yes it would. General education courses should be reduced or eliminated, and here’s why.
The classic argument for general education requirements is that they expand the knowledge of the student, allowing them to gain at least elementary knowledge in a variety of fields. The idea here is good, but a similar effect is achieved in high school. What about AP and IB classes? You take them in high school, yet they typically fulfill general education requirements. It could be argued, then, that high school classes achieve the same wide breadth in knowledge as general education courses aim for. So, if we get the necessary exposure to a variety of subjects in high school (apparently enough to choose a major and what we want to do for the rest of our lives) then why should we have to do it again in college?
Going along that same line, that is, assuming that we gain a wide breadth of knowledge in high school, trying to accomplish the same thing in college is a waste of time. The music major taking a basic biology class: what purpose does that serve? Wouldn’t his time be better spent learning music theory or practicing his instrument of choice? If the purpose of a college degree is occupational specialization, then why are college students required to waste time learning things that they will soon forget and that have no application in the rest of their life?
Instead of wasting time and money on meaningless classes, reducing or eliminating general education courses allows students to explore their chosen major more broadly. The idea of a breadth of knowledge isn’t a bad one, it would just be more beneficial when localized to a subject relevant to the student’s career. In a technological age when time is just as important an asset as time or money, time spent on meaningless general education requirements could be better spent on major classes that give students’ a wider understanding of their chosen field.
With all that being said, there is a place and purpose for general education classes. Some are universally relevant to all majors, like professional writing and public speaking. However, there are some general education requirements that are simply a waste of time. Ideally, general education requirements would be catered to the major, but in all cases, they should be significantly reduced. Unnecessary general education requirements are a waste of time for students, cause extra stress, and are completely irrelevant in the long run. Reducing or eliminating general education requirements will be more beneficial to students in the long term, as they will learn more material and achieve greater knowledge in the field they plan to work in.