“College isn’t just about making better engineers but about making better citizens”
A thorough college education should produce well-rounded students who are passionate about the quest for knowledge. Frank Bruni, author of the New York Times Op-Ed article “College’s Priceless Value” argues that general education courses are the portals into a more meaningful college experience as well as a more thoughtful existence. He acclaims his emotional experience while reading King Lear in a gen ed course in college to having enhanced his way of thinking. Although this experience is wonderful for Bruni, general education courses do not typically have this effect on students. In theory, a broadened education seems very beneficial to creating students educated in all areas. However, in reality, a medley of random courses that are pushed upon students provide only basic information on subjects which students tend to forget after receiving a grade in the course. More specifically, reading King Lear in a required lit class was not a world-changing experience for me. Bruni may have felt inspired but Shakespeare is nothing new to me since I was required to study a lot of his works in high school. Exploring individual passions I feel are more beneficial to motivating students to learn since students are not going to reach their full potential in classes they are uninterested in.
Along with broadening students’ horizons, General Education courses are credited with aiding students in finding the major that is right for them. In his article “Why You Need to Take Gen Eds and How You Can Appreciate Them”, Chuck Cohn writes, “Maybe that Political Science class you take freshman year will take you by surprise and lead you to switch to this field of study”. Although I know this rings true for many students, those who have already found their passion will not be swayed into changing majors by classes they are uninterested in taking. Although gen eds help some students with finding their unique paths, they are a waste of time and money for others.
General Education courses are portrayed as miracle workers for creating better human beings in both Bruni and Cohn’s articles, but in reality are classes students power through to get to subjects they are truly passionate about. Getting inspired by King Lear does not make someone a knowledge seeking student and taking a few gen ed classes is not the same as students learning to seek knowledge on their own well into adulthood. I feel this act comes with maturity and is not just simply created by an exploration of forced classes, as was the case of Bruni.