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Why Do Colleges Have General Education Requirements?

Jan. 21, 2013

According to the US Department of Labor, the average US worker changes careers 3-5 times during their lifetime. In fact, many students may find themselves in a future career that they did not foresee; thus, the significance of colleges and universities offering an education versus job training. No matter their ultimate career, graduates should be able to intelligently analyze information, appreciate diverse ideas, and understand their role as responsible citizens in a rapidly changing world.

The intent of the general education curriculum, then, is to serve as a foundation for developing fluency in areas such as oral and written communications, scientific inquiry, aesthetic sensibility, ethics, information literacy, and critical thinking. The general education curriculum also provides broad intellectual enrichment and helps students to develop the habits of life-long learners. In addition, by meeting these requirements, the students are, in the opinion of the institution, generally educated.

Another benefit of the general education curriculum is the exposure to multiple disciplines that it provides for undecided students. About 30% of freshmen enter college as “deciding” or, in other words, not having selected a discipline in which to major. The general education curriculum provides an opportunity for students to sample a variety of academic areas, while making progress toward graduation, before they must decide on a major field of study.

The typical general education requirements may include foreign language, writing, literature, communication, history or sociology, science, math, psychology, and art or music. While a specific course or courses may be required in specific areas, students generally have a variety of options for fulfilling the general education requirements.

For further information, please contact Jason J. Van Acker, Executive Director of Marketing / Communication, Office of Public Affairs at Wisconsin Lutheran College at (414) 443-8944

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