When I graduated from high school and started my college career, I thought the days of taking general education courses were long behind me. Oh, how that sweet summer child of many semesters ago was so sadly mistaken.

Texas has a general core curriculum that public institutions of higher education have to follow. This is all thanks to the geniuses of the 70th Texas Legislature who passed House Bill 2183 in 1987. This bill requires that everyone take courses such as history, government, math and science, to name a few.

Supposedly this is to “ensure quality in higher education.” If this is true, I’m still waiting to see the results.

I learned all I needed to know about math and science in high school. I learned that I’m terrible at both of those subjects.

Now, in college, I am required to take two math and two science courses when they have nothing to do with my major. I’m a broadcast major because I want to work in production behind a camera.

College algebra and statistics are never going to be useful to me. And while a science class would be interesting to take, it shouldn’t be required for my degree.

On top of the general core requirements the state implements, UTA has its own preprofessional courses it requires for degrees. Students in the Department of Communication are required to take 14 hours of modern and classical languages. While I am in total agreement that learning a different language is beneficial in many ways, making it a 14-hour requirement is unnecessary and excessive.

Megan Cardona

Cardona is a broadcast junior and copy editor for The Shorthorn.

Supposedly, taking general core courses makes for a more well-rounded education, which is odd because I thought that was what completing a high school education was for.

In college, classes unnecessary to my major that are nevertheless required prevent me from scheduling courses I’m actually interested in — courses that would benefit me in my future career.

Foreign languages have never stuck with me. I took years of Spanish in elementary, middle and high school and was sadly never able to retain anything I was taught.

In college I am taking French for my modern and classical languages requirement. If I don’t think about how much of a waste of time, money and credit hours the classes are, I could almost enjoy them.

Requiring more than one nonmajor-related class within several nonmajor-related subjects also adds unnecessary stress.

Classes identified as nonmajor are not always academic strong points. Taking these classes only to receive low grades lowers both a student’s GPA and morale.

Grades are already a leading cause of stress for college students. Why add to it by requiring excessive general core courses? For me, taking more than one science, math and foreign language requirement means fewer courses that could benefit my education.

I remember more from the first mass communication class I took at Tarrant County College six semesters ago than I do from the statistics course I scraped through just two months ago. I could have saved myself the stress and used those wasted hours on a film production class instead.

College is an investment in what you want to pursue and who you want to become. As investors in our future, we should be able to take more classes that apply to our majors and fewer general core requirement courses that supposedly enhance our education.

@megancardona_

opinion-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

Like our work? Don’t steal it! Share the link or email us for information on how to get permission to use our content.

(23) comments

BreezyLovesMavs

I’m pursuing a B.S., already did bio + A&P + statistics. I remember almost nothing from statistics, barely got a C, but I find it to be more relevant to my degree than college algebra. My current 3.8 GPA is about to drop significantly as a result of the math department’s horrible format for college algebra (one lecture a week and online videos? Just give me an online class then, don’t waste my time, at least it will be 100% my fault if I don’t get something). My advisor told me I wasn’t able to enroll in a contemporary math remedial class even though I practically begged to do so because I knew I wasn’t ready for college algebra, regardless of my proficiency in other courses. Now here we are and I’m about to drop the class and delay my degree. I’d rather drop it and not screw over my GPA and study for a college algebra CLEP than waste any more of my energy fighting to pass this class. I agree with OP.

crazijay

TCC has a better math department and tutoring lab, at about 1/10th the cost

S J Avali

I completely agree. Taking a class should be because it is something you are interested in or builds towards your major. I'm not saying I did not do well in my classes that were not centered around my major, but they didn't do anything for me other than add to my heavy course work.
It sucks we have to take them since they cost extra time and money that could be put towards classes that really matter for the major we are taking.

To all those people who defend taking these classes,
you must not understand that some people have other uses for their money other than a class that won't make any difference in their lives after it's done. I hope you will one day realize that money does not grow on trees.

crazijay

"The purpose of the core curriculum is to ensure that Texas undergraduate students enrolled in public institutions of higher education will develop the essential knowledge and skills they need in order to be successful in college, in a career, in their communities, and in life." Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Undergraduate Education Advisory Committee

UTA is one of the most affordable university tuition available in the DFW area, and it is not cheap enough? Entitlement is running rampant here, if you don't like the degree program "vote with your feet" and try to find a university that doesn't make you take core curriculum courses. Why didn't you take college credits in high school and avoid the waste of time and money? Poor planning realization is one of the best life lessons students can get, if they learn from them.

Todd R

I can't believe you are really railing against basic math and science. In this age of Flat Earthers, Moon Landing deniers, Holocaust deniers, and the basic inability of many people to understand basic concepts of mathematics. Please go to a trade school to get your "ticket punched" for a career. A Degree from an institution of Higher Learning implies that you are well rounded, better informed and better educated. I'm sure every student can find one or two interesting courses about the basic nature of the world and universe around them along with the mathematics used to measure and quantify it. One does not need to be in a 'hard science' major to benefit from these courses.

PurfectJen

All the STEM majors grouping together to gang up on a Communications major--I should not be surprised. I grow weary of those who are successful in Math and Science treating everyone else as though they are not their intellectual equals. I am one of those folks who tends to be creative and not analytical. I will never be good at Math, no matter how hard I try. I WISH I was good at Math...society places a high value on that ability and it pays well. The current core requirements prevent a lot of intelligent people from graduating college because they don't fit neatly into the university's "box". It also costs students and tax payers a lot of money for classes that aren't needed and often are not passed. I agree with Cardona and am glad she had the courage to stand up and tell the truth.

crazijay

If any students on campus need a statistics course it is the Department of Communications. The degree plan is given up front before attending, no one makes anyone attend school and take classes they do not want to take. Entitled adult-babies are going to get a rude awakening when they walk into their first job and then afterwards complain about what is in their job position and why they think they shouldn't have to do it. This entitlement generation mentality is getting out of hand, if you don't like your degree find a better one. The entire State of Texas does not need to change education laws because one person doesn't wanna do their school work.

Cuco

Nobody is making you be alive, yet here you are. Degrees are almost necessary now, so we want the classes that we take to pertain to the field or fields that we are studying in. What we don't want is to be forced to pay for classes that are irrelevant to our fields. If your degree is in physics and your goal is to become a physicist, why would you want to have to pay a thousand dollars for a course like anthropology. Us entitled adult-babies don't have the unlimited resources to pay for every irrelevant course the university deems mandatory.

crazijay

Living is a choice, like all other choices. Degrees are necessary because the majority of people are not willing to put in the work to set themselves apart from their peers, like taking classes they do not want to take. Statistics are mentioned in almost every single broadcast, so they need to understand what they mean better than most other professions...hence the proliferation of fake news in our society. If these course are too expensive, take them at TCC like all the other smart degree seekers. If you suck that bad the GPA points do not even transfer. Obviously the critical thinking skills are lacking at UTA.

Catherine Ortiz

While I can appreciate your concern that math and science are not initially related to your major, I beg to differ with the 14-hour (4 courses which include Beginner I & II, as well as Intermediate I and II.)

I would like to state the following in defense of the foreign language requirement:
Given your past experience in grade school and high school, I would have encouraged you to take the CLEP TEST in order to get credit for the basic levels of Spanish. Even if you feel that you did not achieve any level of major proficiency in Spanish from your previous studies, given your background, it is entirely possible that by taking the CLEP test you would very likely have placed out of 8 hours of the required 14 hours in Spanish (SPAN 1441 and SPAN 1442, which represent Beginning Spanish I & II). The CLEP test results also offer the possibility, depending on your score, of getting either credit as ‘passing’, or, if your score is high enough, this could be recorded in your transcript as letter grade credit which could boost your GPA.!

For anyone who plans a career in broadcast news: Even if ‘broadcast’ is only ‘behind a camera’, the folks who work behind the cameras need to communicate with the Spanish-speaking media which is currently a very strong force in media, and will only get stronger as the demand increases with the growing Hispanic population in this state: https://www.texastribune.org/2018/06/21/hispanic-texans-pace-become-biggest-population-group-state-2022/

I fully comprehend that you have currently made a commitment to studying French, which I believe would certainly also be useful to you, since, while Spanish would be more practical for someone in Texas, the study of any foreign language is beneficial in ways that you may not imagine: https://etoninstitute.com/blog/top-10-benefits-of-learning-a-foreign-language

When it comes to looking for a job after you graduate: having studied a foreign language (especially Spanish, in the state of Texas), the 14 hours (or less if you place out of courses by taking the CLEP) will serve you in your current major far more than science or math courses. I do not write this to put down the study of math or science, which I also believe are important in terms of a well-rounded education, but in terms of what, in the core curriculum, is useful in terms of your specific major and future career.

Best wishes,
Catherine Ortiz


Megan,

While I can appreciate your concern that math and science are not initially related to your major, I beg to differ with the 14-hour (4 courses which include Beginner I & II, as well as Intermediate I and II.)

I would like to state the following in defense of the foreign language requirement:
Given your past experience in grade school and high school, I would have encouraged you to take the CLEP TEST in order to get credit for the basic levels of Spanish. Even if you feel that you did not achieve any level of major proficiency in Spanish from your previous studies, given your background, it is entirely possible that by taking the CLEP test you would very likely have placed out of 8 hours of the required 14 hours in Spanish (SPAN 1441 and SPAN 1442, which represent Beginning Spanish I & II). The CLEP test results also offer the possibility, depending on your score, of getting either credit as ‘passing’, or, if your score is high enough, this could be recorded in your transcript as letter grade credit which could boost your GPA!

For anyone who plans a career in broadcast news: Even if ‘broadcast’ is only ‘behind a camera’, the folks who work behind the cameras need to communicate with the Spanish-speaking media which is currently a very strong force in media, and will only get stronger as the demand increases with the growing Hispanic population in this state: https://www.texastribune.org/2018/06/21/hispanic-texans-pace-become-biggest-population-group-state-2022/

I fully comprehend that you have currently made a commitment to studying French, which I believe would certainly also be useful to you, since, while Spanish would be more practical for someone in Texas, the study of any foreign language is beneficial in ways that you may not imagine: https://etoninstitute.com/blog/top-10-benefits-of-learning-a-foreign-language

When it comes to looking for a job after you graduate: having studied a foreign language (especially Spanish, in the state of Texas), the 14 hours (or less if you place out of courses by taking the CLEP) will serve you in your current major far more than science or math courses. I do not write this to put down the study of math or science, which I also believe are important in terms of a well-rounded education, but in terms of what, in the core curriculum, is useful in terms of your specific major and future career.

Best wishes,
Catherine Ortiz

Cuco

It takes about 7 years to be fluent in another language. The four semesters of foreign language are not even enough to have a conversation in a foreign language. Although I believe in the mental improvements that being bilingual brings, I'm not sure that being forced to take 14 hours is justified if it will take further involvement to become fluent or hold conversations. In the end, it's $4k wasted if you don't continue learning after undergrad. If you say that it is the individual's fault for wasting all that money by not continuing it, well it wasn't really their decision if they never wanted to become bilingual in the first place. They just wanted their degree.

Ali

A Broadcast Communications degree has room for 24 credit hours of electives. Most Engineering and Business majors get 3 or 6. You have a lot more flexibility and choice built into your degree plan than most majors do. If you want to avoid language and communications classes, become an Engineering major, but then get ready to take lots more math. If you want to avoid receiving a broad education and want to focus purely on developing technical expertise, why bother going to college at all? As for not spending money on unnecessary classes, you have to complete 120 credit hours to receive a Bachelor's degree regardless of what those classes are. If you've taken more credit hours than that, it's your bad planning that is to blame, not core requirements.

Catherine Ortiz

Hello Megan,

While I can appreciate your concern that math and science are not initially related to your major, I beg to differ with the 14-hour foreign language requirement (4 courses which include Beginner I & II, as well as Intermediate I and II.)

I would like to state the following in defense of the foreign language requirement:
Given your past experience in grade school and high school, I would have encouraged you to take the CLEP TEST in order to get credit for the basic levels of Spanish. Even if you feel that you did not achieve any level of major proficiency in Spanish from your previous studies, given your background, it is entirely possible that by taking the CLEP test you would very likely have placed out of at least 8 hours of the required 14 hours in Spanish (SPAN 1441 and SPAN 1442, which represent Beginning Spanish I & II). This would mean only having to take SPAN 2313 AND SPAN 2314 (Intermediate I and Intermediate II) to complete your requirement. The CLEP test results also offer the possibility, depending on your score, of getting either credit as ‘passing’, or, if your score is high enough, this could be recorded in your transcript (GPA) as letter grade credit which could boost your GPA! Here is a link to the CLEP test information for Spanish:
https://lowerlevelspanish.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/clep-test-faq-sheet-spanish.pdf

For anyone who plans a career in broadcast news: Even if ‘broadcast’ is only ‘behind a camera’, the folks who work behind the cameras in a state such as Texas need to communicate with the Spanish-speaking media which is currently a very strong force in news media, and will only get stronger as the demand increases with the growing Hispanic population in this state: https://www.texastribune.org/2018/06/21/hispanic-texans-pace-become-biggest-population-group-state-2022/

I fully comprehend that you have currently made a commitment to studying French, which I believe would certainly also be useful to you, since, while Spanish would be more practical for someone in Texas, the study of *any* foreign language is beneficial in ways that you may not imagine: https://etoninstitute.com/blog/top-10-benefits-of-learning-a-foreign-language

When it comes to looking for a job after you graduate: having studied a foreign language (especially Spanish, in the state of Texas), the 14 hours (or less if you placed out of the first 8 hours of beginning courses by taking the CLEP) would serve you in your current major far more than science or math courses. I do not write this to put down the study of math or science, which I also believe are important in terms of a well-rounded education, but in terms of what, in the core curriculum, is useful in terms of your specific major and future career.

I wish you all the best in your future studies and career and hope that you can appreciate, eventually, the value of studying a foreign language!

Best wishes,
Catherine Ortiz
Coordinator - Lower Level Spanish
Dept. of Modern Languages

CordialBC

I don't agree at all the changing the core curriculum. The purpose of a liberal arts education at a university, regardless of major is to produce well rounded educated individuals. In my opinion if you eliminate the core, your degree is no different that a 2 year associates degree. The inclusion of classes outside my comfort zone and major has enhanced my graduate school experience at UTA. An example of this it philosophy; I took a philosophy of science course and it helped me to think about how and why the scientific processed developed and the views on fundamental knowledge. Humanities broaden my appreciation of art and history helped provide a context for today's issues that we are all dealing with. By eliminating or reducing core courses you cheapen your college education.

crazijay

I agree with CordialBC. I would go as far as saying the friends you make the first two years are more important than the last two year, when almost everyone becomes your career competitors. These relationships are priceless. Exposure to all of human subjects is a solid foundation for building upon your industry and then finally your specific field. Besides, a major is really just the last year of a four year degree, and it is largely learning the language of your field. Students need to get out of school and practice these theories and apply them is life, not read more books and take more lectures.

Grad84Vet

If you are leaning towards a technical job, then why are you seeking an academic degree?
The academic degree proves you are trainable and can meet goals.
The technical degree proves that you can do the basic work that is required.
Have you spoken to "behind the scene" employers and employees about what is being looked for in that field?

ghost6450

This is not unique to Texas — General education requirements is universal. It is also one of the only reasons your precious communications department (and the English and Art department) is able to survive — by making everyone take their courses. Also, people change majors quite often. This gives first and second years the ability to explore departments, develop a wide range of skills, and not have to add another two years of schooling when they change their minds about what they want to study. Grow up and stop being selfish.

Cuco

The English and Art department would be fine without the mandatory classes being pushed on us since the bulk of their courses are not incorporated into core curriculum. Without the forced basics, the classes can improve as the people taking the courses are actually interested. The idea that we need these filler courses in case some of us change majors is ridiculous. Several countries have higher education without basics, and this leads to more in-depth knowledge and specialization in their fields of study. I have wasted so much time and money on classes that mean nothing to me in both interest and practicality. I think we haven't been selfish enough. We need change.

ghost6450

I encourage you to look into enrollment numbers in these courses for classes that are part of gen ed, and those that are not. They are not paid by the amount of courses they offer, but by the students enrtolled altogether. A course with 20 sections of 40 students makes more than a course with 1 section of 4 students. The requirements for a Bachelors, regardlesof major, is 120 hours. Where do you suppose these come from? Departments would love to offer more courses, but they need the gen eds to pay for their departments. Their contracts tend to be 3/2 -- meaning they teach 3 courses in the Fall and 2 in the Spring. They cannot add courses with 4 students each and keep offering those courses, it's not logistical and tuition would rise at least 4x their current prices to compensate -- I know these things because I successfully passed all the gen ed math and economic requirements.

Cuco

I'm happy that gen ed math and economics taught you how to find out that 40 students paying tuition is more than 4 paying tuition; however, the upper level courses are never that low because, believe it or not, there are plenty of students that actually want to take those courses. Of course, the upper level courses are going to be lower in enrollment because they don't have students from other departments forced to take those classes. Having a different system in place isn't impossible. Look at the difference in general education requirements between the U.S. and European countries.

Jinx

“I’m terrible at those subjects” probably means that you didn’t make the effort to find a learning style that suited you best for the subject. Just because a teacher’s teaching style isn’t the best for you doesn’t mean that the material is unnecessary or that they’re a “bad teacher.” One would think that a Broadcast comms major would be more interested in gaining a useful skill like proficiency in a foreign language to distinguish and make herself more marketable in a tight job market. And fun fact, 14 hours of one language will get you to at least elementary proficiency in that language. Some effort on your part and actually practicing the language outside of class in your daily life would've helped make Spanish "stick" more. I’m actually a bit disappointed in this opinion piece. Best of luck to you in your studies and career, I hope that you're able to develop a more positive attitude about the education you're receiving at UTA.

Cuco

Did you even read this?

ghost6450

Also, to the point of language requirements, that is not gen ed. That is your department. B.S. degrees tend not to require anything beyond 6 hours on foreign language. Who then set up such a large foreign language courseload? Your own communications department.

The Bachelor's degree is also meant as a form of transferability. The government can hire someone in some sectors regardless of their major as long as they have a Bachelor's degree because of those gen ed courses.

But by all means, remove the gen ed requirements. Your liberal arts department will go crumbling down with it.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.