Art by Sybil Zhang
The other day, I was struck with a single, resonating thought. “I need more time.”
Spring registration is descending upon the Pepperdine community once again, and I find myself wondering exactly how I’ll accomplish all I need to do in the next six months before graduation. This includes General Education classes.
The amount of General Education courses in the Pepperdine curriculum is astounding and, quite frankly, counter intuitive. Pepperdine needs to allow for greater flexibility in the requirements for GE courses and allow students to create their own agenda, which will best prepare them for their chosen career.
I’ve been at Pepperdine for almost four years. I’ve been in school since I was 5 years old, and I’m pretty sure I can recite basic facts about mitochondria being the powerhouse of the cell, and that correlation does not prove causation in my sleep. I have more memories of falling asleep in the library than I do falling asleep in my own bed.
But, logging into good ol’ Handshake or LinkedIn, I’m struck by how many requirements there are for even an entry-level position, and how woefully under qualified I feel every time I hit “Submit application.” There is so much more I need to learn but have been prevented from doing so in favor of making my last religion or humanities credit.
“The requirements for the General Education Program include 19 courses, totaling 63-64 units,” the Pepperdine academic requirements website informs the reader.
Pepperdine is a liberal arts school. Students are expected to have a broad array of classes in various subjects. Being a Christian university also requires that students take part in several Religion classes, adding to the general education requirements.
There are certain classes that students should be expected to take, such as religion or the arts. In no way should they be sacrificed. There are classes that are fundamental to a solid education and having certain skill sets to use in the workforce and in life.
But, by requiring so many specific classes, Pepperdine limits student’s abilities to explore other avenues, engage in subjects that they might not have previously considered and prevents them from letting them change their minds. By giving students greater flexibility and fewer requirements, Pepperdine can fulfill its liberal arts mission with greater success and better prepare students for a workforce that expects a broader range of knowledge and skill set.
The fear of rigorous and strict requirements cutting into the need to engage in a wide variety of subjects is felt not only at Pepperdine. “Liberal arts colleges promise students a well-rounded education in core disciplines that will prepare them for a variety of careers and lifelong learning — not just a first job,” quoted in the article “Liberal Arts College Students are Getting Less Artsy,” published Feb. 21, 2017 by Inside Higher Ed.
Allowing students to choose their general education classes with more flexibility, while lowering the total amount of required classes, would grant Pepperdine Waves the ability to best create an education which will suit their needs. Not one student’s path will be identical to another’s. Therefore, their education should not be identical, either.
Allowing students to have the ability to change their minds, develop more dexterity and study multiple subjects, without having to worry about graduating on time, is the best possible way to prepare them for the myriad of skills and expertise now being sought out by employers.
Follow Nenah Mikuska on Twitter: @nenah_mikuska