What Liberal Arts Colleges Don’t Tell You.

Going into a liberal arts college can be intimidating. You have to spend a lot of money and time on work which can be very stressful. When colleges don’t tell you everything you’ll have to do when you get there, it is like a huge middle finger to the students. When you enter liberal arts college, you will have to take classes called GUR’s (General University Requirements) which are, as stated, required to graduate. You will learn most of the classes you will be taking are not related to the topic/major you’re interested in. In fact, most of the money and time you spend in college will be going towards those classes. If you’re like me, you will wonder why you need to take so many classes that don’t relate to your major.

Through my research, I found that many students wonder why they have to spend so much time and money on classes that, while interesting, seem unnecessary. I interviewed two of my friends and my brother. My friends, Tim and Kenzie, believe that all the GUR’s they were taking were not worthwhile. They said much of the information they gain from the classes they didn’t retain, and they don’t see how it will benefit them in the future. My brother agrees with them; the only difference is that he thinks GUR’s are to show that we can jump through hoops and do what we have to do to become what we want. Out of all the views from my research, I found this one the most interesting. It made me wonder what the point of getting good grades in high school was. I know you need them to get in to college, but wouldn’t that be evidence enough that we could do what we needed to do? If colleges want us to jump through more hoops, they should tell us before we get there.

To extend my understanding of why we have to take GUR’s, I turned to an article written by the Dean of the Faculty of Liberal Arts at the University of Calgary, Richard Sigurdson. Sigurdson states that GUR’s function to build and refine skills we have from high school to what colleges expect. Sigurdson then says they will help us not only refine our skills in multiple subjects, like science, math, English/Language Arts, but will also help us build social, analytical, creative thinking, and critical thinking skills. I understand high school classes aren’t equivalent to college classes, but we have to do all of these things even if many of the subjects have nothing to do with our desired major. That being said, Sigurdson agrees the liberal arts college and their GUR’s is not necessary, an alternative is to get vocational degree. A vocational degree is a two-year, career-based degree that will start your path to your desired major.

In all honesty you may get a better job right out of a four year liberal arts college than you would if you got a two year vocational degree, but if you think about it, that doesn’t really make sense. I know this is going to sound like the ravings of a mad man, but if you really think about it, it should bring a new understanding of college. You need to look at the big picture. Our world is always advancing. With these advancements, jobs are constantly getting more complex, and because of this complexity, we will need to learn more until we are up to par with others in the same field. In ten or twenty years we will have an unbelievable amount of information in our desired field alone. If we spend so much time learning things that won’t apply to our job, we just waste time on something that won’t help us in the future. Eventually we will need to spend five or six years in college just to get a major in the field we want. If we start focusing on education in a specific field we won’t have to worry about wasting time on topics that aren’t beneficial to our professional goals. If you want to expand your knowledge in different areas then a liberal arts college is a good choice. You may have to pay a significant amount to get your education but it is a good experience, but if you want to get an education based around your desired field, a vocational degree would be more to your liking.