Gen ed classes should be expanded


Jesse Szweda

Jesse Szweda, Opinion Writer

General education classes are a significant part of the college experience, whether it’s history classes with the sleep-inducing power of a medical anesthetic or chemistry courses that induce tearful fits of panic before every exam.

Life as a college student has its challenges, but nothing seems to compare to the demands of those infamous general education courses.
General education classes cover the basic courses needed like math, science, history and English.

Students have many complaints about general education classes, but one that certainly demands our attention is the question of difficulty.
Is it possible that general education classes are unfairly difficult? And if they are, what can be done about it?

General education classes, despite all the bad press, certainly have a place in our University system, and I’m not going to argue that they should be abolished.
However, I do think we should be open to exploring ways to provide more choices and make general education classes more enjoyable for students.

When it comes to how universities can make general education classes more accessible to their students, much of the answer might lie in exactly that idea: creating more options.
This might mean putting more effort into reducing class sizes so students can learn in an environment that works for them.

It might also mean introducing more online study tools so students can get help for classes outside of normal tutoring hours.

It might also mean offering more one-or two-credit classes so students can meet general education requirements over the course of several semesters instead of just one if that’s what they prefer.
General education classes are frequently subject to criticism on college campuses, but it’s important to keep in mind that not all students view these courses in a negative light.
UW Oshkosh senior Ali Hegle said she thinks that general education classes can help students figure out what they want to study.

“I think it’s so common for students to think they know what they want to go to school for and then they start doing it and realize they don’t like it,” Hegle said. “And if you didn’t force someone to explore a little bit in other areas, they’d be very stuck not knowing.”

UWO senior Alex Novak said he also sees the value of general education classes and that they play a crucial role in the well-being of our society as a whole.
“Learning about our political system, about history, about all that kind of stuff, I think is important for advancement, progression, for everybody,” Novak said.
Clearly, general education classes have their strengths.

The idea of exposing students to a wide range of subjects for the purpose of broadening their perspective has long been a fundamental tenet of the University system’s mission and purpose.
However, none of this changes the fact that many students continue to struggle in these classes.

In light of this reality, the case for possible alterations to the way these courses are organized and taught remains fair and reasonable.
UWO sophomore Megan Olson said she believes that universities should be more sensitive to learning differences between students and that putting more effort into reducing class sizes could be one way to make general education classes easier for students.

“People learn differently,” Olson said. “I don’t learn well in pit classes at all. It’s very hard to concentrate in an hour-and-a-half-long pit class when you’re stuck between people, and people can’t find seats.”
Despite the difficulties associated with meeting the needs of students, Olson said she thinks that universities are capable of creating more options for how students can complete their general education classes.
“I know it’s hard for a university; you can’t cater to everybody,” Olson said. “But they should have more options, especially for a general education course.”
These improvements don’t always come easily, but the possibilities truly are endless.

If universities can remain open to finding new ways to help their students in their studies, those students might just come to believe that general education classes aren’t that bad after all.