College graduation made easier?

They say going to college is a way to make a person well rounded, and what other time in life do we have to take a plethora of courses in different fields that might interest us?

College is a perfect backdrop for academic experimentation. Universities across the country have sought ways, whether their students appreciate this or not, to give these students the academic variety that they feel will serve students best.

General education requirements are established to do just that, although for the average college student, these are just viewed as an obstacle in their way of graduating. During the spring of 2011, it was voted to change the general education requirements for Youngstown State University. What emerged from this were slightly slimmed down and reorganized requirements for graduation.

At first glance, it appeared as if this was an action on part of the General Education Committee to make graduation easier for college students by eliminating two courses from the requirements, which could be the difference in someone’s semester of graduation. For me, I was able to graduate using the traditional model and had little problem achieving the goal in the allotted four years time, although I will add that I took two summer classes.

The new agreement was reached under debatable terms among members of the committee.

Tod Porter, chair of the committee, said, “The gen eds are one of those things the entire university shares, so you know everybody makes compromises getting a package everybody can live with.”

With that in mind, it did occur that an alteration of such magnitude could affect so many departments on campus. I’m sure not every department was thrilled, but as Porter said, concessions are made by few for a common agreement.

At first glance, the reorganization of the domains leaves a point to be made. It seems that courses out of the YSU College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences were given the short end of the straw when they were combined into domains. The obvious repercussions are fewer students taking courses, such as the basic history courses, which, as I have come to find out, is not the most valued field in academics.

As a graduate of the history program, I take offense to this. As the cliche goes, “History repeats itself.” This very much is a true statement. However, I digress; the sole purpose of this article is not to sit on my soapbox for our society’s lack of appreciation to history. It is, however, to analyze the new general education requirements.

My first impressions of the changes were that they were supposed to make graduating from YSU a simpler task. After further discussion with Porter, I gained a better understanding of just what kind of benefits these changes have. I discussed my undergraduate situation of how I was able to graduate in the traditional four years as a history major. That is when Porter pointed out the difference.

“Sizes of gen eds was almost a non-issue for a lot of the CLASS departments because they have so much flexibility,” Porter said. “It makes a much bigger factor in professional programs where the curriculum is so tight.”

After looking at several of the professional programs at YSU, I realized that many of them have requirements of more than 130 credits to graduate. Having room for maybe two or three electives was a shocking revelation. It really changed my perspective on the whole situation. I can wholeheartedly say I understand these changes to the curriculum because, Lord knows after taking that many classes, you are not going to miss that much more with two fewer classes — except maybe an extra semester until graduation. 

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