The Core Curriculum: Why general education requirements are beneficial to your academics
Within the United States of America (USA), higher education is an opportunity to start exploring the world around you – from meeting new people to focusing in on your interests, studying within the USA opens up a world of opportunities both within the country and worldwide. One of the most defining characteristics of American post-secondary colleges and universities is their “core curriculum” or “general education” requirements that are to be completed within the first two years of your degree. From foundational approaches to ideas such as writing and scientific reasoning to specific course requirements in the liberal arts, sciences and humanities, general education can take place in many different forms. No matter how your school chooses to carry out the core curriculum, one thing is for certain: general education requirements are extremely beneficial to your academics, your career and even your personal life.
American schools, unlike many schools elsewhere in the world, want you to come out of your education well rounded and well versed to face any type of situation. By taking courses in a wide variety of disciplines, you are acquiring the skills that will make you unique in both your academic life and career life. Generally, courses within the arts teach you how to communicate, think creatively, and view situations from different perspectives. Comparatively, courses within the sciences help you learn how to assess, evaluate and solve problems effectively and efficiently. When one combines these generalities into one educational pathway, they gain a significant edge for all areas of their life. For example, a mathematics major who has also taken courses in the fine arts will likely be able to think outside the box since practicing creativity helps with problem solving significantly, allowing you to approach problems in non-traditional ways. This ability gives you that extra push to success. The more you draw upon the skills you learned in different areas, the better you will perform over time during your course of university study. If you are looking to take the next step and pursue graduate or doctoral degrees, you will find yourself better prepared to face difficult challenges in research and development. Simply put, every new and diverse experience you will have faced during your studies will give you the toolkit to be more successful in academic life.
As for employment, during the hiring process, an employer is looking for factors that make you unique from others in similar educational pathways. A workforce is most effective when the people within it are diverse in thought and can view the same problem from different angles. As a result, if you do not have anything that makes you stand out, you are less likely to be considered for the position you applied for. Thus, being required to explore subjects outside your comfort zone can be a great benefit because during an interview, you can easily argue that the series of statistics courses you took during your English degree has given you the ability to process data in many contexts – differentiating you from other candidates. Once hired, in practice, you are proving your worth to your employer by demonstrating yourself as a highly skilled professional – making you more valuable to your boss and your company overall. The general education requirements will give you the competitive edge in your career as long as you showcase what you have learned and are capable of as a result of the courses you have taken.
Finally, and probably most importantly, the general education system is designed specifically to benefit one person – YOU! Although you may not want to take anything other than courses inside your major when you first start college or university, instead of viewing general education as a requirement, see it as an opportunity to explore your interests and learn about yourself. While society says otherwise, you are not expected to know exactly what you want to do with the rest of your life when you are fresh out of secondary school. Learning subjects at the post-secondary level gives you both the introductory exposure to new fields of study and also the access to the higher thoughts that can be only investigated at a college or university. This combination allows you to solidify what you are passionate about and maybe even pick up a minor or two during your upper years of study. For example, while you may not want to formalise your education in philosophy, an introduction to the discipline may set you up for lifelong learning and a passion for the great minds of Aristotle or Socrates. As knowledge is always being acquired by the minute, having something that regularly sparks your interest but you would have never otherwise been exposed to unless you took the class about it, can set you up for a more satisfied life and higher level of personal attainment. No matter who we are or what we do, we are all searching for something deeper – something bigger than what we are as human beings. Higher education is a great opportunity for us to find that “something bigger” that we carry with us for the rest of our lives. Be open to studying everything and anything as this is your chance to finally spread your wings and fly into our beautiful world.
Hoping to study within the USA and start searching for your passion? ApplyBoard is here to help. With our wide range of American schools in many different states, we can help you from your application submission to your visa process! To get started, please select the “United States” filter in the list of many North American schools at the following link: https://www.applyboard.com/schools.
Dawson Phan, Marketing Assistant at ApplyBoard