An education without options

In Opinion

By Jonathan Montgomery

Daily Titan Staff Writer

Registering for classes used to mean I was guaranteed a stress-fest of closed courses, waiting lists, future petitions, horrible times and ambiguous professors labeled “staff.” But as a senior, things were a little different this time around.

I was graced with priority registration. Instead of looking at a handful of classes all starting at 8:30 a.m., I now had the entire world in front of my eyes.

I had access to a fresh batch of classes, all open, just waiting for me to add to my cart and enroll; and boy, did it feel good. Yet, even in this time of great convenience, I was also struck with an unexpected, bittersweet realization.

Somehow, I was unsatisfied thinking about how this would be the last time I registered for classes at Cal State Fullerton.

My four years in this comfortable bubble was now coming to an end and staring at the white screen of class times and professor names presented not only a list of classes, but also a list of endless possibilities.

For the first time in my college career, I had the option of actually choosing three classes of my choice, and in doing so, I realized just how many things I wanted to learn but didn’t have the chance because of certain major requirements and those intellectually stimulating general education courses (sarcasm).

Linguistics? English? History of Jazz? I began to feel cheated by time.

I sat at my laptop browsing through courses I’d never heard of but desperately wanted to take, and it made me question how much my college experience, outside of my majors, was about actually educating myself.

In retrospect, I feel I spent two years getting hilariously trivial GE advisement while continuing my quest to check off all the boxes on a yellow sheet.

It’s not that I dreaded all of my GE courses, some were great, but I found way too many of them arbitrary and way too similar to courses I had already taken in high school. Most of the time the material went in one ear and out the other as it spilled onto a Scantron.

It goes without saying that one will learn more if they’re interested in the subject, and since I am paying for this education, shouldn’t I be able to choose courses inside my true areas of interest?

I agree that students should have to take extra courses, but with a little more choice and a refocusing of our GE program, students may actually find themselves getting more out of their classes; heck, they may even try reading their textbooks for a change.

I see something wrong with universalizing education so everyone has to take the same thing, issuing a certain view that these are the classes to take in order to get a “well-rounded education.” Everyone is different; one size does not fit all.

So I question if this generalization of courses is helping or hurting in educating students.

College should be about personal growth and learning how to be a responsible person.

However, providing an outline each graduate must follow assumes, even as adults, we can’t decide what to learn for ourselves; simply with a little more student choice, I argue they are ensured a more personal, memorable, quality general education.

How funny, that at the pinnacle of my college career, I started wondering if I rushed through two majors, just to enter a terrible job market, without stopping to take a breath and simply seek and enjoy knowledge for what it is. At a time where I should be sick of learning, I felt like I didn’t learn enough.

Well, I guess there’s always graduate school.

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