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As administrators postpone the roll-out of the long-awaited new Program in General Education, students continue to express confusion over how they will fulfill their requirements.
Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana announced last Monday that the revamped General Education requirements will take full effect in fall 2019, a year later than originally scheduled. Affected students—current freshmen and sophomores—have met his announcement with uncertainty as they struggle to determine what the changes will mean for them.
The overhauled system of General Education requirements will replace one that is “failing on a variety of fronts,” according to a report compiled in 2015. While administrators have yet to iron out all the details of the program, they have determined that students must take three courses in the Science and Engineering, Arts and Humanities, and Social Science divisions in addition to four General Education classes across a variety of fields.
Current freshmen and sophomores will graduate under the new requirements, though they may use current General Education courses to fulfill their requirements.
Many students—freshmen in particular—claimed they do not fully understand how the program works, and they said the delay has only exacerbated their confusion.
“I never fully understood the system in the first place, so moving forward, it’s [the delay] just going to make it even more unsure and confusing,” J. Caleb Stickney ’21 said.
Andrew D. Crawford ’21 said the timing of the announcement resulted in “a lot of stress” as he had to contend with a change in his initial concentration plans.
“I thought it was pretty weird, especially as I was coming into this new semester,” Crawford said. “I thought I knew what major I wanted coming in here, but last semester I found that wasn’t what I wanted to do. So I took a Gen Ed course, and it’s just confusing trying to figure out what transferred.”
In an interview last week, director of the General Education program Stephanie H. Kenen said that designing courses that will fit into the new system is taking longer than initially expected, and a delay will ultimately result in a stronger program.
Ava M. Hampton ’21 said she thought the new policies were “unclear.” She said she planned to continue taking old General Education classes due to a familiarity with the old system.
“I'm probably going to end up fulfilling the old requirements just because I understand what they are more clearly,” Hampton said.
Still, others remained unconcerned and even welcomed the delay.
John Schaefer ’21 said he felt “comfortable” with the transition and praised the flexibility in the requirements.
“To be perfectly honest, I’ve been taking classes under the impression that I’ll fulfill the requirements eventually,” Schaeffer said.
Brandyn H. Ulrich ’21 also said he was not overly concerned about fulfilling his requirements even though he found the transition to be an “inconvenience.”
“I think enough of it is similar to where I have a good enough understanding now, so I’m not too worried about what classes count for what Gen Eds,” Ulrich said.
Hampton said she recognized the importance of postponing the new system, which she called “a good first step.”
“Advisers will be able to give better advice because I feel like a lot of them weren't exactly sure what the new program required either,” Hampton said. “I feel like once there's more time to familiarize everyone with the new requirements, it'll be a much better system.”
—Staff writer Angela N. Fu can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @angelanfu.
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