Imagine stepping foot on a college campus for the first time and suddenly- before taking a single class- having to choose a course for the rest of your life. While students typically switch majors multiple times many institutions fail to give students a well rounded liberal arts education. In an effort to attract the brightest students many universities give credit for IB, AP, or AICE classes taken in high school. These credits are applied toward general education classes that would take the place of a liberal arts education. And while this can save money and shorten the amount of time spent in college I think it is important that every student receive a general liberal arts education.
When many people hear of a liberal arts education they think about social sciences or english and picture a New England landscape with hipster students wearing black framed glasses carrying leather bound books. But the fact is a liberal arts education plants the foundation for the college experience and allows students to find themselves and their interests before choosing a path. Many times students are quickly forced to put themselves into a major and on a track that they’ve never even studied before. Higher education should be about expanding your knowledge and discovering what you want in life. We need to give students more time to figure that out.
A liberal arts education can also be an equalizer that allows students from all backgrounds to explore their interests before making career decisions. Recently in Florida, the state legislature passed a bill giving the University of Florida “the green light to create a 9- to 12-hour core curriculum unique to the institution that all students would be required to take”. The important part of this common core is that student can not opt out of these classes using IB, AP, or AICE credit. This common core would create a more united campus and enable all students to share in common knowledge. UF President Bernie Machen said having a “shared educational experience” is important and I could not agree more.
In today’s changing world young people are being pushed earlier than ever to find a course for their life. College should be an experience for growth and discovery and we should give all students the opportunity to explore their interests. And while some students may moan and groan at getting a liberal arts education it will plant a foundation for the future and enhance the college experience.