What are General Education Requirements?

All colleges require some sort of distribution requirements or core curriculum. Explore this kind of coursework and why it exists.

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Distribution Requirements. Core Curriculum. General Education. Maybe you just call it GE for short. Whatever your college labels it, GE is the group of broad, entry-level classes to satisfy a university’s standard for creating a diverse, well-rounded student body. Typically, it’s a list of classes that you choose from, and practically every college will require you to take them.

Why Do Colleges Have General Education Requirements?

Distribution requirements were created as part of an effort to make sure all college students have a working knowledge in a wide array of fields. Educators and academics didn’t want their History majors to leave school not knowing anything about science, or their Chemistry majors to not know how to write a decent paper.

Community colleges are a great, affordable way to further your education because you can take all of your general education classes and then transfer to a four year university.

Most jobs in the real world require an interdisciplinary knowledge of multiple things, and if all you ever did was take classes that related to your major, then you would be at a severe disadvantage. Especially since a lot of people get into jobs that have nothing to do with their concentration! Thus, core curriculum was born. General Ed became a way to get students to try different things and learn a broad variety of topics.

They’re also a great way to discover passions you didn’t even know you had. You might not normally take Biology 101 or History of Jazz Music, but with general education, you can discover new topics and fields that you might grow to love. Some people get minors or even change their majors based upon new experiences in these classes.

How Does General Education Work?

Usually there are specific requirements that you have to complete, and a list of classes that will fulfill each requirement. For example, at the University of Southern California there are six general education categories, and students must take one course to satisfy each of them.

The categories are broad. For example Global Traditions, Scientific Inquiry, Arts and Letters; are all GE categories. And within each category there are many different classes to choose from. To satisfy Arts and Letters, a student might take a World Literature class or course on Film Studies. Chemistry, Biology, or even Astronomy satisfy the Scientific Inquiry requirement.

Oftentimes, these classes also can be applied toward your major. For example, an Art History course you take for a GE requirement may count toward a history major or minor. This becomes helpful if you want to add minors or majors to your studies while continuing to pursue your original major.

The Community College Option

Community Colleges are a great, affordable way to further your education because you can take all of your general education classes and then transfer to a four-year university. This is an excellent option because general education courses are often easily transferable to other schools. This way you can take them at a lower cost per credit, and take the classes for your major at the four-year institution.

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