Excessive core requirements are a burden to students

Lars Moeller

        There are 17 core classes, or more than 51 units of core classes, that are required in the School of Arts and Sciences. 

    While it is true that students in this school knew what they were getting into when they signed up for a liberal-arts education, 51 credits of specific, mandatory class is detrimental to our education. 

     I have heard the speeches from professors about the importance of a liberal-arts education. I understand that having to take certain classes gives us a broader base of education. This argument makes sense, and in many ways I agree with it, since the point of a liberal arts education is to prepare students for a broad range of career possibilities. Core classes are a good way to expose students to many different fields. But, on the other hand, having 51 credits of required courses chokes in-depth study of specific topics. A liberal-arts education should expose people to new ways of thinking but not at the expense of pursuing an area that captures our interest and can provide the most help for our futures.

    I am enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences and am a political science and economics major. There have been two specific areas where I have felt choking redundancy in the basic core graduation requirements. I came into Villanova with three years of high school foreign language under my belt and a very clear understanding that foreign languages are not something I wish to pursue nor am very good at.  But I am still required to take two full years worth of language classes.  These classes are replacing classes I could take in my areas of interest – classes that have a better chance of helping me in the future. We are also required to take two theology classes, two laboratory science classes and many other redundant classes. All of these classes take the place of courses that I could be using to further my knowledge in Economics and Political Science. I am relatively lucky, and I came into Villanova with enough AP credits to double major. If, like many students, I hadn’t come in with so many credits, I would not be able to pursue a second major that would be much more meaningful to my future than the core requirements. It is the point of a liberal-arts education to give students a wide base of knowledge, but having so many redundant required classes hinders our opportunity to pursue more in depth studies in our future fields. 

     The University could very easily fix the problem that taking so many core classes presents. By reducing the redundancy of core curriculum, the College of Arts and Sciences would make it easier for students to pursue their interests to greater levels. I am not calling for the university to get rid of all core classes. I understand the importance of a liberal-arts education and how having such a wide base of experience can better prepare us for life after graduation. But the current requirements are too much. Liberal-arts students can still be exposed to theology, language, social studies and natural science without having to take two or more classes of each to complete a requirement. If these were cut down to only one class required, there would be 12 more credits available for a wider variety of studies. This would allow students to better pursue their passions, while still exposing them to the diversity in knowledge that a liberal arts education strives to give. 

     Besides the purely educational argument against so much redundant core requirements, there is a question of money involved. These 12 or more redundant credits compromise nearly an entire semester, or $23,000 worth of classes. If students are paying that much for classes, they should have more of a say on what classes they spend money on. By cutting 12 to 15 credits, we could give students more freedom to choose classes that interest them and to delve further into fields of study that can help them in the future.