General education classes are required for every student to graduate college, so the prospect of their elimination could bring enormous changes to the structure of higher education.
Each LSU student must obtain 39 general education credits, which takes up the majority of a student’s classes their freshman and sophomore years. Without these courses, a college student could earn their degree in half the time.
Some students, like screen arts freshman MJ Jenkins, think college is for fine-tuning professional abilities rather than reviewing basic math and English concepts.
“It would be beneficial to everyone [to remove gen eds],” Jenkins said. “High school is gen ed. You go straight into working in your field in college.”
Gen eds contribute to the overall cost of college as well. The average annual cost of a student is $30,360, but the University had a $562 million operating budget in 2019, according to LSU’s website.
Kinesiology freshman Kailyn Savoy said cutting general education courses could help students avoid debt.
“LSU needs money to pay for things, but the students come first, and so the University should not put them in a gigantic financial hole in the future,” Savoy said.
The average debt per borrower for the University’s graduating class of 2017 was $24,933, and many college students work through college to ensure that number is as low as possible.
Interest level is another issue facing gen ed courses. Most students aren’t interested in classes outside their academic fields; still, other students see issues with removing beginner courses that could potentially help underclassmen adjust to college life, including sociology senior Chloe Garner.
“Freshman need the extra time to prepare and learn how college is before they take harder courses,” Garner said. “[Removing general education courses] would be bad for mental health.”
Additionally, gen eds help students receive a more well-rounded education, should they choose to apply to jobs outside of their major field. Only 27% of college graduates ultimately work a job pertaining to their major, according to a New York Federal Reserve Bank study.
The University occasionally alters general education requirements for specific majors, such as eliminating accounting and economics requirements from the mass communication degree program beginning in fall 2020. Students who previously had to take Economics 2030 will now have to take a general education social science class, and students who had to take Accounting 2000 will now be required to take another mass communication elective.
General education is required by the Louisiana Board of Regents and by the University's regional accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, according to the LSU website. Changes to general education components are considered by the LSU Faculty Senate Committee on General Education.
The University's commitment to general education requirements "represents a conviction on the part of the faculty that all students need to reason logically, communicate effectively, and relate to the world around them," according to the University website.