A question you may hear a lot during your time at SJU is, “Why am I in this class? ” or, “I am never going to use this class, why must I take it?” I, too, have mulled over these questions and wondered why all of these additional classes are required since they are not essential to my major. As a senior, I have to say I am finally starting to understand. Over the years I have slowly (and yes, I mean slowly) learned the importance of the GER or General Education Requirement. The GERs are required courses, which many universities have adopted. These courses may consist of English, history, science, mathematics, foreign language, and/or religion. Most of us studied these subjects in high school. These courses now make up the bulk of education courses at most universities.
Many times you may think to yourself, “Why am I studying biology if I’m a business major?” Looking into the rationale behind GERs, I have discovered that colleges require these courses so every graduate has the same basic set of tools. Colleges today want their graduates to be well-rounded and well-educated. In my opinion, I do think that the GER classes are an important part of your college education, and that upon graduation you will have achieved a well-rounded education.
But, where I differ is on the grading system. If a class is not an essential requirement for your major, then why are they stringently graded? In my opinion classes, that are not major related, should be graded as pass/fail, rather then the traditional point system. My fears are that you may not excel as planned in the GERs. If these classes are based on pass/fail status, this allows a student to take elective course work outside their major field without concern of it affecting their grade point average. With the such high-stakes pass/fail grading makes sense. Unfortunately getting colleges and universities on board is where the difficulties lie. Since we are presently “stuck ” with the point grading system, we have to do our best to succeed. We must face the facts; the GER requirements are here to stay. They are a required evil to graduate. We will get through these classes, and trust me they will pay off in the end.
Eventually, you will look back and think how much these classes actually taught you both in and out of the classroom. These classes are designed to help you not become a better student, but a better all around person. GERs are designed to make you think. These classes that may seem unimportant are the ones that you may get the most out of when it is all said and done. Who knows you may even choose one of the GERs to minor in! As you sit in that class, remember that you are learning something and that everything coming out of your professor’s mouth is important. Statistics show that General Education Requirements prepares a well-rounded graduate, who is ready for the job market. Although a number of top ranked universities are attempting to reintroduce the pass/fail system for elective and non-major courses, here at SJU we are still based on the standard 4-point system. We must continue to work hard and face each GER class head on as if it is a class for your major because ultimately your overall GPA does count on it!