A while ago, one of my friends posted this meme about how college in the United States is too expensive to waste time with general education requirements. And I do agree that tuition and fees in the United States are highway robbery. Too many students taking out too much in loans and then not being able to find jobs that will help them make those payments is a sin. And it’s not the 18-year-olds who are being told by adults that this is a good way to do things who are the sinners.
My bachelor’s degree is in education, and, as a result, I have thoughts about this meme.
First of all, eighteen is very, very young. Yeah, an eighteen-year-old is legally an adult for most purposes, but in many ways, an eighteen-year-old is kind of a child, really. I mean there are some who are going to school and working full-time and all, but less than half of all teenagers even have jobs, much less are helping to financially support their families.
So many eighteen-year-olds haven’t seen anything of life. People change careers so often, and I suspect that at least some of that may be because we are expected to choose a direction for our life when we’re between the ages of 16 and 20 (16 for those who go through high school career programs and 20 for those who start out undeclared in college and make a decision going into their junior years in the current system). If we took out those two years of general education requirements, we’d be expecting everyone to choose a path when they’re between 16 and 18. Eeek!
Most high schools have way less in the way of educational programs and facilities and such than most colleges and universities. Having those two years can help a kid fine tune their decisions even when they know which direction they want to go. And for those who don’t know, it’ll open up a whole new world of options, including fields they may not have even known existed.
I’m going to end with a small anecdote about my own life. I was a C student in math for most of my life. Part of it was probably that my mom didn’t emphasize math and my preschool didn’t stress number or math skills. Part of it was definitely that I was nearsighted from a very young age and it’s very hard to do well in math when you can’t see the board. Since math is one of those things where one skill balances on top of another, getting off to that bad a start meant that I just kept doing badly. I took a placement test for math in junior college and I needed remedial algebra and so I did it. I retook the same math class I got a C in my freshman year of high school, only this time it made sense. I got an A. I retook the intermediate algebra class that I took my junior year, and this made sense as well and I got another A. So I took college algebra and wouldn’t you know? I got an A there, as well. If my college experience had only been glorified trade school, I would probably still have no confidence in my ability to do math. And that would have kept me from going for the pharmacy technician job. So general education courses really did broaden my horizons.
Where did I leave off on my Gratuitous Amazon Link? Holes? Yeah, why not? I really enjoyed Holes. I heard great things about it, but somehow just never got around to it. And I’m really sorry that it took me so long to get around to it.