Half of Seniors Chose To Switch to Gen Ed

This spring marks the last semester of the College’s Core Curriculum, and the final numbers are in: 56 percent of this year’s seniors have chosen to graduate under the new General Education program.

The Class of 2012, the final cohort with the option of remaining under the Core, could make their choice between the two sets of curricular requirements until the final deadline on Feb. 20.

Seniors were first given the opportunity to switch to the new program when they declared their concentrations as sophomores, and they were able to change any time until last week, according to Stephanie H. Kenen, the director of the Program in General Education.

There were “very few” last minute switches, Faculty of Arts and Sciences Registrar Michael P. Burke wrote in an email.

Kenen said she was not surprised at the nearly fifty-fifty split between the two programs.

“When the [Gen Ed] program was so new and untested, I was surprised that it was that high,” Kenen wrote in an email.

But several seniors said that they had expected fewer of their peers to remain under the Core.

“I feel like most of my friends are on Gen Ed, so I would’ve expected that number to be higher,” Lauren M. Mitchell ’12 wrote in an email.

Mitchell, a linguistics concentrator, chose to switch from the Core to Gen Ed after her freshman year, when she realized that she could take one fewer class to fulfill the Gen Ed requirements.

“From the few people I know who are still on Core, they complain that there aren’t very many classes offered that count for Core anymore,” Mitchell wrote. “I don’t know why anyone would switch back, unless they found a class that they really wanted to take but that counted for their old curriculum and not the new one.”

Kevin G. McNamara ’12, a computer science concentrator, said he chose to remain on the Core because it amounted to fewer requirements for him. But McNamara said that he feels that Gen Ed classes are simply “better” than Core classes.

“They’ve been phasing out so many of the Core classes that it’s kind of hard to be on the Core,” McNamara said. “If there were kids in future years that could switch to Gen Ed, I’d say, ‘Definitely switch to Gen Ed.’”

Kenen said that the Program in General Education has tried to make the transition from the Core to Gen Ed as painless as possible for students. For example, administrators made sure that all new Gen Ed classes fulfilled an area of the Core as well.

During the process, some classes transitioned seamlessly, while others were required to make revisions to their syllabi in order to fit the Gen Ed requirements.

—Staff writer Gina K. Hackett can be reached at ghackett@college.harvard.edu.

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