By Alina Hunter-Grah, Chattanooga, Tenn. —
UTC is one of the many schools that offers a liberal arts education. This means that students are required to take all sorts of classes that don’t really relate to their specified field with the idea that this will make us more rounded people. This is why we all have to take those 60 hours of general education classes.
I understand that liberal arts are important. Wikipedia has liberal arts defined as “those subjects or skills that in classical antiquity were considered essential for a free person … to know in order to take an active part in civic life.” The definition alone points to the importance of this kind of education. But when these gen. ed. classes begin to affect my ability to focus on the classes that will actually strengthen the skills I need to get the jobs I want, there’s an issue.
I and most people, whether they realize it or not, have paid to receive an education that will give them the knowledge necessary to have to get the job we want. That’s the end goal. So it would make sense that I would want to focus on that and it would seem that the University would help me achieve this goal.
But right now, I’m taking 18 hours of classes on top of an internship and spending time here at The Echo. My classes consist of four classes that are dedicated to my minor that I have chosen based on the kinds of reporting I want to do later in life, a class for my major, and Latin, a dead language.
Latin sometimes feels like a thorn in my side because it either pulls my attention away from the work that will directly affect my success or I have to make a decision to focus on the other things which then brings down my grades.
(Professor Knopick, if you happen to read this, just know this isn’t personal. You’re a fabulous professor and I know you care a lot about how the class is doing. Your class deserves more attention than the amount I am able to give it. I always speak highly of it.)
So, the thing is, while I see the importance of these classes, I feel that they instead do more harm than good when placed at this point in life. I felt the same way when I was in Biology and “relearning” what the mitochondria’s purpose was (cue powerhouse of the cell joke).
But the point is these classes have never taught me anything new or useful or felt like a good use of my limited time.
So, here’s my ideal or solution to this problem.
First, we shorten the gen. ed. requirements to 30 hours instead of 60. This would give me and others more of a chance to take all of the classes offered within my department that could be helpful and I would be able to spend more time on the things that mattered more.
Then, we strengthen the classes in high schools to accommodate for the reduction in college. For an example about what I think this should look like, see my commentary online titled “Shifting our Focus to Primary Education.” I essentially say that classes need to be more engaging and inspiring in high school so that students don’t need to take them again in college.
But let’s actually give students what they’re paying for. Give me a chance to be successful.