Taking general education courses in college serves several purposes. These courses provide a review of certain basic academic subjects. Many students don’t like them because they find them redundant. They’ve already taken basic English, science and math in high school and they don’t want to repeat them. But, while some students may dislike them, these courses can have some benefits.
While some students graduate from high school knowing exactly what they want to do, others have no clue. When these students arrive at college they can’t declare a major, so they are labeled “undecided.” Undecided students benefit from taking general education college courses. These courses give them time to decide what they really want to pursue. It would be a waste of time and money to take biology requirements and then a semester later decide you really want to be an English major.
College level general ed courses are often more challenging and in-depth. These courses give students the opportunity to learn the subject matter more deeply. Repetition and frequency promotes learning, and having similar material presented in a general education course might seem monotonous, it can actually help students learn.
One of the best things about general education courses is that if taken seriously, they can boost your GPA. Sometimes college freshmen decide on a major and take more challenging courses their first year. If they don’t do so well, this will damage their GPA. General education courses give freshmen the chance to get acclimated to the college environment and take courses they are already familiar with. Following this strategy can help you maintain a positive GPA.
Another benefit of taking general education requirements is that they give you the chance to see what college courses are really like. They let you get your feet wet before jumping into the deep end of the pool. Professors are different from high school teachers. They don't provide the same level of support that many freshmen college students are used to. Taking time to adjust to different expectations and teaching styles will benefit students in the long run.
Stacy Alleyne is a certified English teacher with a BA in English and graduate work in English, education, journalism and law. She has written numerous articles and her own dining column for the "Gazette."