Staff Editorial

Lawrence University defines itself as a liberal arts institution, one that offers a broad and diverse education to its students. General education requirements play an important role in guaranteeing that each Lawrence graduate leaves college with a large knowledge base and abilities that go beyond one specific major. However, certain adjustments could be made in order to make general educations easier to fulfill and more beneficial to a student’s education.
About half of all Lawrence students choose to go abroad at some point in their college career, an experience that is encouraged because it enhances and often changes students’ perspectives on the global community. One of Lawrence’s competency course requirements reads, “courses emphasizing global perspectives.” An experience abroad certainly focuses on global perspectives, and many would say that traveling abroad is the most effective way to experience such perspectives firsthand. Oddly enough, however, studying abroad does not fulfill the global competency requirement, as it clearly should.
In addition, students often take courses that should be labeled as, for example, “speaking intensive” or “writing intensive,” but are not. These classes often place an equal or greater emphasis on speaking or writing than any of the courses actually designated as such, but no one ever submitted the necessary paperwork to give them the accurate label. Doing so would greatly reduce the number of students trying to get into other popular speaking and writing intensive courses and would allow students to fulfill requirements more quickly and easily.
Finally, individual academic departments should consider revising their course offerings to provide a maximum number of general education requirements within the department. Many are already in the process of doing so; however, those who have yet to update their offerings should consider that it is much more beneficial for students to experience upper-level courses within their field than to take lower-level courses in an unrelated field simply to fulfill a requirement.
In order to remedy these issues, students must voice their opinions to their professors and to the registrar via discussion or the course evaluations that are given out at the end of every term. Individual academic departments must regularly evaluate whether enough opportunities are offered to fulfill requirements and whether the supply of courses meets the students’ scheduling demands. General education requirements are an essential part of a liberal arts education, and students should be able to fulfill them in a way that is both efficient and beneficial to their college experience.

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