If you’ve started your college search, you’ve likely encountered general education requirements. All accredited colleges and universities have them and, if you want to earn a degree, you’re going to have to complete your school’s required courses. But why do they exist? And why do most general education courses come from fields outside of your intended major?
Here are a few reasons why university general education requirements are important and how they can be advantageous to your education, life, and career.
As you compare colleges, you’ll quickly learn that all colleges and universities have their own set of general education requirements. Nevertheless, most schools require you take courses in a cross-section of subjects. This is to help ensure every student earning a bachelor’s degree graduates with a broad base of knowledge.
While you’re likely enrolling in college to gain knowledge and skills in a specific subject relating to a desired career, psychologists contend that, in order to be a well-rounded person capable of fully participating in society and the modern economy, you need a strong foundation in the major areas of human study and endeavor.* Entry-level courses in arts and humanities, mathematics and natural sciences, and the social sciences can help you gain a greater understanding of and appreciation for the world and its people.
In addition to arts, humanities, and science courses, many general education requirements also include courses in written and oral communications. In today’s business environment, communication skills are some of the most important skills you can possess.† This is why, no matter which school you choose, you’ll likely be required to take several courses designed to enhance your ability to communicate. Many universities even offer practical communication courses in areas such as delivering presentations and professional writing.
Critical thinking is the ability to analyze and evaluate an issue in order to form a judgment. To put it another way, critical thinking is the ability to resist gut impulses and instead look carefully at the available information, consider multiple interpretations of that information, and come to a conclusion that is rationally defensible. If this seems complex, that’s because it is. But it’s also an important skill to have in the complicated, modern world, and one that will serve you well in your life and career.
One of the main purposes of general education requirements is to teach and improve critical thinking. Not only are most general education courses geared toward analyzing, evaluating, and synthesizing information, but the wide breadth of knowledge you can gain in your general education courses will expand your overall understanding of the world and give you more knowledge to work with when applying critical thinking skills later.
Part of your college comparison likely includes rating each college on how well it can prepare you to start, advance, or change your career. But you should be considering more than the courses offered in your preferred field of study. General education courses can also be valuable to your career. That’s because no job, no matter how specialized, is removed from the larger world. For example, a marketing executive tasked with developing a campaign to promote a new pharmaceutical would be better positioned to succeed if they are familiar with the scientific method and have a basic understanding of how researchers develop and test new drugs.
When you’re putting together your list of colleges to apply to, don’t forget to consider online universities. The best include all the general education requirements you need; plus you’ll enjoy all the advantages of online education.
When you earn a degree online, you don’t have to worry about moving to a new town to be close to your university. You don’t even have to worry about driving to a campus to attend classes. That’s because online degree programs give you the opportunity to complete your coursework from home. In addition, you can also schedule your online classes for the time of day that works best for you, allowing you to continue working full time while you earn your degree.
At the best accredited online colleges, you’ll also have plenty of courses and degrees to choose from. You can earn a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in a wide range of fields, from information technology to nursing to business to social work. Whatever your career goals, you’re likely to find an online university that can give you the education you need to succeed.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.
*M. Austin, The Value of General Education, Psychology Today, on the internet at www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ethics-everyone/201104/the-value-general-education.
†G. Satell, Why Communication Is Today’s Most Important Skill, Forbes, on the internet at www.forbes.com/sites/gregsatell/2015/02/06/why-communication-is-todays-most-important-skill/#201ea1471100.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.