The Instigator
bfkennedy
Pro (for)
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The Contender
thekingof300
Con (against)
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Should General Education in college be allowed as a choice?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/29/2015 Category: Education
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 297 times Debate No: 75942
Debate Rounds (5)
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bfkennedy

Pro

I am a junior at U of Iowa and I plan to run for president of my student government body. I want to purpose the idea of making general education a choice when a student applies to be admitted to the university. This is simply an idea I want to test so I feel it's necessary to debate. I'm not saying I will be able to go through with this idea, but in any case I would still like to debate it. Please challenge my idea as thoroughly as possible.

My argument goes as follows: I believe that general education should be considered a choice for all students within their college career. The reason for this is because there are certain students such as myself, who feel that we know what it is that we want to do with our future and college career. Because of this, I feel general education has not been very beneficial to me, but more of a waste of time in which I believe could have been better spent in other areas.
Now, consider that I would like to make general education a "choice." This would mean that when a student is applying for a university, they would have to choose whether or not they should need to have general education requirements. If a student was to choose to take general education, then they would need all the necessary GE requirements that the university requires. If a student were to choose against taking GE, then he/she would need to write an essay with an explanation as to why he/she doesn't feel the need to take GE classes and what plans they have for their college career along with possible future (after college) plans. This essay would then be evaluated by the university and approved or rejected by the admissions office.
As for credits, if a student is accepted as not needing to take college general education, then the amount of credits required for their major or minor would be increased to fulfill the extra time in college. This would mean that more classes would be added for the major and minor requirements to extend education to cover every section within the major or minor. Now just because someone will not need GE requirements does not restrict them from taking other classes, it just means the credits will count as elective credits.
But what happens if a student decides not to keep his/her major or minor, or wants to switch to taking general education or vice versa? The choice would be available for the student change or add to their major/minor anytime as they normally would be allowed by their university. If a student decided to change their position from needing GE requirements to not needing them, they would need to do the essay as stated originally. However, if they decided to go from not needing GE requirements to needing them, then they would not need to write or do anything except notify and meet with their advisor.
thekingof300

Con

Hey there! First of all, I"d like to say that I respect you for seeking opposition to your idea before bringing it up at your university; it"s extremely wise to prepare yourself for possible opposition by testing the waters in a more anonymous and secure environment.

I have to admit; when I first read your argument I agreed completely, it just made sense "why waste your time learning something you"ll never use in the future" Calculus" >.>" However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it"s not quite as perfect of an idea as it seems.

Before we get into it, let"s both agree on something, we should speak in the context of the public system of education rather than private systems, because 1. Private systems are too varied to be able to be discussed in a generalized nature and it would take far too long to go into detail with different private systems 2. University of Iowa is a public institution so let"s keep our conversation to what is relevant to your situation 3. Private universities can (for the most part) do whatever they want, so they don"t have the responsibility to provide a level and fair playing field for all their students, which is ultimately what GE is designed to do.

The first thing one must ask themselves what is the purpose of GE?

To answer this, one must take a look at the Pre-Collegiate American education system and understand one fundamental truth. The purpose of grades public K-12 Institutions is not academic growth and development, but rather social growth and development. (If you disagree, that is a debate for a later time, one worth a whole discussion of its own, and if you want we can have one, but for the sake of the argument, let"s just assume that is correct) The obvious problem this creates is that because the standards for High School education are quite loose and vary so much from school to school, it creates not only drastic differences in academic ability between students attending the same university but it also makes it extremely difficult for a university to accurately judge the academic abilities of incoming freshman. This furthered by the fact that there is no reliable standard by which to evaluate an incoming college freshman"s academic ability, as high school GPA"s are completely arbitrary and irregular, and SAT scores have been proven to favor students with specific upbringings. (Direct yourself to this link if for statistical evidence of this https://nces.ed.gov...).

GE was born as a solution to the discrepancy and uncertainty in freshman"s academic abilities. It serves as both a benchmark by which to evaluate students and a method to level the playing field for students by providing a few semesters worth of equal education in order to give everyone fair chances to compete.

Through your time in college, especially in the early years, a lot of the learning you do happens outside the school. What I mean is that for most of us, college is the first place where you start to learn about the real world. No longer are you pampered by the safety of your parent"s house, nor the support of high school teachers and life time friends, you"re cast into a completely new environment where you know absolutely no one, and it can be extremely difficult for some people, a lot of people experience depression, a lot of people drop out, and during these times, challenging academic classes would only add to the stress. The ease of GE classes allows students to invest minimal time into their academic careers so they can learn more about real life and how to live independently. It gives students time to adjust, whereas throwing them headfirst into classes related to their majors, even if the students themselves think they can handle it, would just stress them out because of their increased difficulty and time investment, and give them less time to do what ultimately the first two years of college is about, discovery of self and learning how to live as an independent unit in society.

Another thing that GE provides is the opportunity to take classes you previously would not have if you concentrated solely on your major. I have 3 minors, philosophy, art history, and psychology. I would never have discovered my love for these things if not for GE, sure maybe I"ll never practice any of them, but I enjoyed learning about them and they affected my life in ways I might not yet even comprehend. The amount of classes available to a high school student is extremely limited when compared to the amount of classes available to most university students, the chances of finding something else that you love through GE, is extremely likely, its one of the reasons so many people change their majors. No one plans to change their majors, they simply find a love for something else while they complete their GE, or perhaps they discovered their incompatibility with their own major after delving into it. Either way, in both cases skipping their GE affect them negatively. To the ones that found they loved something else, imagine if they hadn"t done their GE, they would"ve potentially gone to school for a couple of years until they either drop out because they"re not passionate about their major, eventually changed their major, but without having first taken GE, they"d have less information on what they"d be interested in, or worse yet, lived their lives doing something they don"t really enjoy. To those that skipped GE and eventually lost passion in their majors, they"d have very little experience with anything else, without a GE to learn about diverse things, they"d have only experienced classes they wanted, without ever being pushed into taking a class that, although they might not have ever wanted, turned out to be something they quite enjoyed.

If you made GE a choice, which can be waivered through writing an essay, how would that essay prove that the student has the academic ability to succeed in upper level major-related classes without completion of GE classes? An essay cannot display the full range of academic abilities a student possesses, nor can it display the other skills required to succeed in upper level university classes.

Another problem that comes up with making GE a choice is that it divides people into two groups, those that didn't do GE, and those that did. The ones that didn't do GE will feel superior to the ones that did GE because they had more time to focus on their major and minors. Companies and graduate schools would see Non-GE students as superior to GE students because non-GE students had to take more credits in their majors, so are better versed in the fields. This would give another layer of elitism, to an already extremely elitist society, where if one wants to be able to be competitive, their only choice is to not do GE. However what if someone wants to be competitive in their field, but because of their background, maybe they are poor , had a rough childhood, or maybe they just didn't have the opportunities that others had, they weren't able to get a quality high school education. Then what? If they take GE classes, they"ll be able to catch up, but then they would be seen as less than non-GE students by future employers or schools. If they opt to not take GE classes, then they"ll do extremely bad in their majors because they don"t have the knowledge or academic ability to succeed, leading to a low GPA, which would again draw a distinction between them and students who had more opportunities. It creates an almost inevitable trap for under privileged students.

Even if a university were to make GE a choice " using whatever benchmark they set up to prove the student can handle the harder classes" it still would not change the fact that not all majors are created equal. For example, classes that a business major has to take do not even come close to the ones biology or chemistry majors have to take in terms of difficulty. So would each major have different benchmarks? Either way it"s a lose-lose situation. Biology students that pass the benchmark will get more biology classes, which are more difficult than most classes, resulting in lower average GPA. Biology students that don"t pass the benchmark, would have several classes that would serve as a buffer for their GPA, these would be the easier classes that they take through the GE. In the end, the situation is unfair for both parties because one has to work their extremely hard to receive a lower GPA anyway, and one gets looked down upon because he didn"t meet certain benchmarks, even though they had a higher GPA.

Honestly, I just don"t see the need for it. If you want to learn more about you major, spend your elective credits on classes relating to your major, it"ll give you the chance to learn more, without implementing a system which can potentially bring harm to a large percentage of the school"s students. The GE only takes up 30% of your maximum credits, and it gives you the opportunity to take some classes that you might find interesting, and learn some things that you wouldn"t have otherwise. Maybe after taking them you have a change of heart about what you want to do for the rest of your life, I mean I decided I wanted to be a lawyer when I was 14, I"m currently on the road to becoming one, but I was 14 when I made that decision. Since when can 14 year olds be trusted to make life altering decisions? The reasons I wanted to become one then are completely different from the reasons I want to become one now, I was lucky to get it right on the first try. However, GE gives you the opportunity to look around a little before you jump into what you decided to do for 50 years when you were just a teenager. Although it worked out for me (and probably yourself considering you came up with an idea to focus more on your major), I know it doesn't work out for a large percentage of people, and they should be taken into account as well.
Debate Round No. 1
bfkennedy

Pro

bfkennedy forfeited this round.
thekingof300

Con

thekingof300 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
bfkennedy

Pro

bfkennedy forfeited this round.
thekingof300

Con

thekingof300 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
bfkennedy

Pro

bfkennedy forfeited this round.
thekingof300

Con

thekingof300 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
bfkennedy

Pro

bfkennedy forfeited this round.
thekingof300

Con

thekingof300 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Bogcha 2 years ago
Bogcha
Are you saying that in our current times students are forced to go into GE?
They can take any courses/programs they wish (as long as they meet the necessary admission requirements).
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