One of the most frequent questions I am asked as an academic advisor is, “But I’m an agriculture major—why do I have to take _________?” (Fill in the blank with any general education class, i.e., humanities, English, math etc.) When students begin their college education, typically they have chosen a major that interests them, so obviously they expect to take classes that are related to that degree or major.
First-generation college students, especially, do not realize that a significant part of their post-secondary education is designed to broaden their perspective and stimulate logical and creative thinking through general education core classes. Of course, as educators, we all strive to bring these principles to each of our classes, but oftentimes, students need a baseline to begin with before they delve into the specialties of their degree courses.
Whether it is psychology, sociology, calculus, or any number of other general education courses, they all impart a certain set of critical thinking and analysis skills as well as provide a thread of continuity among all of the courses. Individuals who have been exposed to these skills and the connections between all fields will be able to make the claim of being “college-educated.” Understanding how people relate to each other and how and why other cultures interact and react the way they do is knowledge that is transferable across all disciplines.