‘Let me take what I want to take:’ MRU students divided on general education requirements
By Darian MacDonald, Contributor
General Education Classes (better known as Gen Eds) are a hot topic around campus. Some people love them, some people hate them. The two arguments tend to be either: “I’m taking extra classes that aren’t necessary.” or “I’m taking classes that help me learn lots about different subjects.” I remember, even before applying to Mount Royal University (MRU), I asked a student what they thought of their studies at the school and they told me, “I love my program’s classes, the issue is the Gen Eds. I hate them, but I have to do them.” Their words genuinely made me reconsider applying to MRU.
I was so worried about hating school because I knew I’d have to take these extra courses, which I thought were unnecessary at the time. Now, three years later, I can actually say that I personally appreciate the fact that I was required to take Gen Ed classes.
For starters, taking Gen Ed’s helped me expand my world and discover a new found love for subjects outside of my program. For example, after taking one Gen Ed, I learned I had a love for history. At my high school, we didn’t have a history course, so university was the first time I was able to try such a course—I ended up taking three more history classes. Even courses I didn’t like ended up being, grudgingly, helpful. In my first year at MRU I took science and math literacy, and it was rough, because I’m really not a math person. However, a year later, I had to take statistics for my program requirements, and I was surprised to see some familiar topics. In fact, my earlier science and math literacy Gen Ed helped me through several statistic units. Now, in my fourth year, I’ve used my Gen Ed and elective requirements to fill out a minor that compliments my degree and even helped me land my internship.
Personally, I’ve come to understand and appreciate the importance of Gen Eds, and I do believe these classes can make you a more well-rounded person with a wider range of skills. I am not alone in this—MRU is pretty sold on their benefits, too.
On the MRU website, under the General Education section, MRU lists several reasons why Gen Eds are important, “You will gain a number of critically important academic skills, and…you will have a stronger, multi-disciplinary base to draw from when making decisions in your chosen field. Today’s workplace is increasingly multi-disciplinary…You may change career directions…You may discover a new passion,” the website says.
But not everyone feels so positively about Gen Eds. I talked to a few students on campus to hear their opinions on Gen Eds. One student says “Just give me normal electives. Let me take what I want to take, don’t force me into taking certain courses when you’re already doing that for my main program. I understand that you’re supposed to get a wide range of courses and knowledge, but I don’t think we should be forced into doing that if we don’t want to,”. This student also expressed that he would be interested in taking extra classes, but he wants the freedom to choose which classes to take: “My friends are taking Natural Disasters … and I want to learn about that but I don’t have the option to. Overall I do not like them and I’d rather just have normal electives,” he says.
Another student told me, “When I first started at MRU…I was not paying attention and I unfortunately took and committed to two writing intensive courses that conflicted with my core courses and my social life. I never want to do that again. So now I end up searching the prof, gauge how this course goes, and put all my Gen Ed courses into a spring semester. All because I ended up having to take a history and an art history course in the same semester. While interesting subjects for sure, I hated writing for these classes.”
At the end of the day, MRU students are divided on whether or not they think the Gen End requirements are necessary or beneficial, but maybe the truth is in the middle—while they indeed have their benefits, general education classes can also be time-consuming, costly, and hard.
Whatever your perspective might be, ask for help when you need it, and try your best to pick a Gen Ed on a topic you think you might be interested in.