With warm weather dawning, I’ve come to realize that I really love nature. The sun is high, the birds are chirping and flowers are blooming. I’ve even been known to love the snow too, on occasion. Nature is awesome. Natural science on the other hand, just isn’t my thing. Sure there are those who want to study biology and geology and things to do with Aerospace, and good for them. They should do what they love. But is an enforced natural science requirement really necessary?
While backpacking my classes for the upcoming fall semester, I realized that, as a student in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts, I have to finish at least seven natural science credits before I receive my degree. What? I’m majoring in communications. What does communications have to do with the Biology of Animal Diversity or 20th-century concepts of Space, Time and Matter (two possible courses for natural science credits)? Is struggling my way through a natural science class really going to prove useful in the long run? The University should stop enforcing these pre-requisite courses and instead have students focus their time and efforts more wisely on their chosen fields.
I recognize the value of having a solid knowledge and understanding in the four basic areas: English, math, science and social studies. But how much is too much? Classes and credit hours have a price, which should be taken into consideration. Why should students pay for something they aren’t actually going to use to further their careers?
College should be a tool, a way to prepare for a job and a future. Spending four years on a bachelors degree is useless if half the time is spent in classes students don’t want to take, or more importantly, need. With all the requirements hoisted upon students these days, it’s no wonder so many are ready to break under the stress. Why make students, who already work hard enough, force themselves through these credits that won’t necessarily help them excel in their chosen field of study?
The enforced credit that is the most useful is the first year writing requirement. Having the knowledge to write a decent paper will aid a student in multiple areas of learning. Research papers aren’t exclusive to the English department. However, the same can’t be said for natural science. In each of my classes this past semester, I had to write at least one paper. However, in none of my classes was it necessary to explain the charge of an atom or describe whether the clouds outside were cirrus or cumulonimbus. So why do we need the natural science requirement?
According to the University, these natural science classes — and other pre-requisite courses — are required to foster a well-rounded student body. That seems like a rather ineffectual pretense. Well-rounded might as well mean mediocre. However interesting these natural sciences courses may prove to be, students will more than likely finish with just an average understanding of biology, geology, physics or any other natural-science related field. More importantly, what if students come out of these natural science classes with a less than desirable grade? Having this standard knowledge of natural science seems minor when compared to a less than stellar grade point average that could actually affect a student’s future.
So what is the point, exactly? In all honesty, it seems like there isn’t a real reason for requiring these courses, aside from the vague desire for students to be more “well-rounded” individuals. So more irritating than having to pack an extra course into my fall semester schedule is the fact that I’m taking these courses without a valid reason. Let’s be honest, being well-rounded in all these different areas doesn’t really mean anything. Students should strive to be well versed in their chosen field of study, rather than just passing time on a subject matter that isn’t pertinent to their future career.
Kelly Etz is an LSA freshman.