Most colleges and universities require their students to take general education courses. But, what are these courses? Why are they required? What can be gained from them? Here is everything you need to know about general education courses.
What are General Education Courses
General education courses are classes in specific categories that meet specific criteria. These categories are your school's general education requirements.
General education requirements are categories of knowledge your school requires you to gain a working knowledge of before you graduate. These categories are usually things like fine arts, behavioral science, world studies, and communication.
Why Is General Education Required
Schools want their graduates to "well rounded" in their education. They require these general education courses to help students gain a well rounded education which they hope will serve you throughout your life after graduation.
These classes are also a great opportunity for you to try out different things to see if you like them. Some people don't decide on their major until after they have taken a really great general education class.
General education courses also afford students the opportunity of expanding their chosen field of study to gain an emphasis in a related aspect of their chosen majors. For example an English Major can take some great in-depth general education classes on poetry. Or an Engineering Major could take general education courses on bio-mechanics.
What Can Be Gained From General Education?
General education can give you the foundation you need to become highly intelligent in your field of study, and in life after college. These courses can set you up to be better at your chosen field, provide you with new hobbies, and perhaps even change your mind about your chosen field of study.
What Is a Good Way to Take General Education Courses?
College is expensive, and some universities have quite lengthy general education requirements. However, there are smarter ways to complete your generals.
If you're going to an expensive university, you might just want to hold off attending until you've completed your generals at an in-state community college. Just make sure all of your classes transfer before you take them and pay for them.
You can make sure they transfer by working with an adviser at both your university and your in-state community college.
What Generals Should I Take?
Choosing generals is kind of the fun part of college. If you have chosen a field of study, look and see if there are any requirements that overlap with your generals (it happens sometimes), and then fill in the gaps with classes that interest you.
If you have not chosen a major, then it would be wise to take general education classes that cover subjects you think you might want to go into. However, take a wide variety of courses so that you can experience as many possible fields of study as you can.
Remember, your college requires a certain number of general education courses. There's no way of getting out of them, so you might as well have fun with them.
What Should I Avoid When Choosing General Education Courses
Your school may require you to fulfill general education requirements that you know will not interest you or advance your career in any way. When you encounter these types of situations, take the easiest class you possibly can.
For example, if you know you will not be going into a fine arts major and your school requires a fine arts general course, then pick the fine arts course that will be the simplest to complete for you. There is no reason to bog down your already busy schedule with a class that is more difficult than necessary.
How Can I Know If A Class Will Work For Me?
There are many websites you can find that rate your professor, the course, and the course load. Do your research before committing to a class to make sure that you will be able to complete your generals, work well with your professor, and handle the course load.
Also, most schools make professor and course evaluation results available for you to see if the class would work well with you.
Do I Have to Complete My Generals Before Declaring My Major?
You do not have to complete all of your generals before declaring your major. In fact, if you know your major it would be good to check to see if any of the required courses in our major double as courses for your general education requirements.
If you do not have a chosen major, don't worry. Most students don't choose their majors right away. It is good to explore your options to be sure of your path.
Where Can I Get Advice On Which General Courses Would Be Good For Me?
Your school will provide you with an academic adviser. They can help you discuss your general education requirements, and if you would like they can suggest some great general education courses that will help you explore your options. Your advisers are also great resources on gaining information on specific classes.
When Do I Need to Complete My General Education Classes?
For most majors, there is no specific time frame for completing your general education requirements. Some people don't complete them until their last semester, while others have them completed by their junior year.
Talk to your adviser to see if your major has any time frame requirements for completing your general education requirements.
Keep in mind that majors with time frames for completing your general education are highly specified. For example, Med school, law school, and some teaching programs require you to have completed all generals before your senior year, or before a completion of an internship, or practicum.
How Do I Know If A General Education Course Is Worth the Effort?
Some general education courses are more difficult than others and sometimes, it's worth it. If it interests you, advances your career, or makes you feel passionate about the work you are doing, then the extra effort is definitely worth it.