Specifics of General Ed.
General Education classes are rumored to be the main reason for a lower G.P.A. It is common for English majors and others in the School Of Humanities to be afraid of the classes they have to take to fulfill science and mathematics requirements, and those in the School of Engineering and sciences are less than enthusiastic to fulfill their writing and humanities requirements as well. There is no doubt that many G.E. classes lie outside of our comfort zone, but the courses themselves are not inherently difficult.
Since grade school, we have been raised to learn several subjects at once. Learning about math, science, history and English through our high school years is an institutional effort to produce well-rounded citizens. Colleges and universities have general requirements to ensure that we continue building upon these foundations of basic knowledge.
What sets the university apart from elementary, junior high and high school is that students are given more freedom in choosing classes and are encouraged to specialize. Now that we are at UC Irvine, we finally get to study the subjects we want to study. We have made it this far and proven that we know how to work hard, study and take on a variety of classes — so why do we complain now?
Simply put, it is all a matter of attitude. When we hear from our peers that a class is hard and accept that as a fact, we set ourselves up for the worst. Besides making class less enjoyable from the get-go, we give ourselves excuses to not do our best: the concept of “hard classes” is tied to the misperception that we are bound to not do well. And somewhere down the line, because everyone accepts a class as a notoriously “hard class,” it becomes socially acceptable to not do well.
By no means is every class easy. Granted, there are classes that are more difficult for us than others. That does not mean; however, that any class is intrinsically hard. Math 2B is no more difficult than English 100.
It just so happens that avoiding Math 2B or math classes in general is the very reason one declares an English major. Our strengths, abilities and interests are more compatible with some classes than others. To remedy this, what we need to do is to understand how to adapt to these different fields, instead of just accepting that it is too difficult to succeed.
College and universities do not have general education requirements in place to simply torture us; these general ed. requirements encourage us to learn beyond the limits of our narrow major-centric intelligence and experiences.
Instead of simply accepting that a class is difficult, it is better for our own sake to take the class without preconceptions and judge for ourselves what we think of it. We possess our individual strengths and weaknesses, and what we lack in natural understanding, we can always make up for with hard work. Though we may not always receive an A grade, what we get out of these classes shows in the long run: more efficient studying habits, a better understanding of ourselves and a wider scope of knowledge in fields outside of our specializations.
Elizabeth Lee is a third-year English major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.