The GPA killers
Views 101 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 3 - 28 - 2017 | By: Grant Gardner
We have all done numerous assignments about the importance of a liberal arts education and how it applies to your life, of which the majority serves to only say what the professor wants to hear. Ironically or not, I have never completed one of these assignments in any of my major courses. It seems that the classes which harp on the value of taking non-major courses are the general education classes themselves.
Before discussing the value of these general education classes, it is important to quantify their cost. Four years of attendance at Westmont will cost about $225,000. A standard business degree requires 124 units to graduate, with 60 units coming outside the major, constituting just under half of the mandated units. That results in a cost of around $112,500 for general education, or $2000 a unit.
This exorbitant price tag also does not include the time needed for studying and projects in classes that most likely will not impact a future career and the impact bad grades have on an overall GPA. Often, scholarships are tied to GPA and a student could become priced out of Westmont due to general education classes. It also forces students to make a tough decision: is it better to take an easier class just for the grade or one that is interesting and valuable, but tougher grade-wise?
This is a decision students should not have to make. What often gets lost in this debate is that the students are the paying customers of the school, and as such, should have control over the product they pay for. Westmont is a liberal arts institution, and each student recognized that before deciding to attend. However, most did not understand the extent of the non-major requirements or the difficulty associated with those classes. Because of this, these well intended general education courses have become a burden for students, enhancing the pressure related to academic performance.
This is not to disparage liberal arts or claim every general education course is worthless. These classes expand student perspectives and expose them to new material which could pique unknown interests. There are numerous stories of students who changed majors because of their experience in one of these courses. The Westmont faculty is also passionate about what they teach and challenge students thoughtfully in diverse areas.
The issue lies in the magnitude of the general education requirement. There are many major specific classes that one is unable to take because half of their degree is mandated outside of their major. Westmont is too expensive to miss out on these impactful courses and replacing them with unrelated material.
Reducing the 60 unit requirement to 40 would allow students more flexibility in dictating their schedules and grant them the opportunity to take the classes they want. While it is important for Westmont to stay true to its identity as an elite liberal arts institution, there is also a responsibility to provide the best education to its students by giving them the freedom to dictate the path to their degree.