Without a basic set of skills, college students can’t hope to reach their higher education goals. That’s why first-year students at Miami Dade College must address requirements to establish proficiency in reading, writing, science and culture. The requirements set them up not just for success in their majors, but for successful lives.
Whether they pursue a bachelor’s or associate degree at Miami Dade College, all students must fulfill 32 credits of general education requirements. Many, although not necessarily all, of these credits are fulfilled in the first year. Required classes cover English, writing, oral communication, science, math, humanities and the arts, behavioral and social sciences and electives. Students must maintain a C average in these classes in order to move ahead.
The Pen is Mightier
All universities in Florida must comply with the Gordon Rule, named for the late state Sen. Jack Gordon. The rule standardizes writing requirements at universities and requires two basic English classes. All Miami-Dade freshmen must take English Composition I, where they learn to craft essays and other forms of writing, and English Composition II, where they are schooled in conventions with standard American English, polish their persuasive essay-writing skills, write responses to various literary genre and compose a research paper.
Students must take two natural science classes and two social science classes to graduate. Among the first-year level classes that fulfill the science requirement are General Biology, Social Issues in Biology, and Biology and the Environment. Other classes that fulfill the requirement are Descriptive Astronomy, where class is held outside at night; Physical Science, and Energy in the Natural Environment. Sociology courses tailored to freshmen to fulfill general requirements are the Social Environment and the Individual in Society.
Fundamentals of Speech Communication is required in the first year at Miami Dade. The course covers skills necessary to speak well in personal, professional and educational settings with groups and individuals. Students can choose among various humanities offerings, but classes tailored for first-year students include art appreciation, where students learn the role of art in the home, school and community through lectures, films and slides and music appreciation, which covers music’s various styles, idioms and forms.
These core classes are required of first-year students so they leave the college with a basic set of skills regardless of major or degree. Students learn to communicate effectively, think critically, evaluate Internet research appropriately, appreciate global diversity, appreciate their place in the community and think ethically. They will be comfortable with basic math and computers, appreciate the environment and be creative. These are skills universally sought by employers and help college students go on to become lifelong learners.
Rudy Miller has been writing professionally since 1996. Miller is a digital team leader for lehighvalleylive.com, a local news website and content provider to the Express-Times newspaper in Easton, Pa. Miller holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of Miami.