Why you’re forced to take gen ed classes

I’ll let our president, Ginny Horvath, take this one:

Jon-Ryan Maloney: With the growing cost of college, how do you engage somebody who thinks a humanities degree isn’t worth it? You seem to have a unique perspective because you lived this question. Particularly on this campus, how do you think about the question of a broad, liberal-based education?

Dr. Virginia Horvath: When people start college they might think, “I’m going to major in business, because I’m going to work for a business.” Well, most people who are not entrepreneurs work for a business. Some businesses need people with business degrees to do marketing, advertising, and accounting, but a lot of entry-level positions in businesses want a person with a bachelor’s degree. They don’t care what it’s in, because they’re going to train you in the specifics of the company. So I think a liberal arts degree is helpful preparation for all of those. I think of Diane Craig, who was the CEO of Ford Canada, and is now in charge of all Ford sales in the United States. At Fredonia, she was a math major. Students here have asked her, “How did your math major lead you to that? Is it because you were good at math?” She says, “No, I got a job working in a Ford showroom as a salesperson, and I couldn’t have gotten that job without a bachelor’s degree.” So some of the marketability of a bachelor’s degree depends on people having an attitude that they’re becoming as smart as they can be. Not, “I’m going to take the requirements, and then I’ll have the degree that entitles me to a job,” but more, “I really want to work to be as smart as I can be.” Even if you’re never going to be a sociologist, you take sociology because you’re going to learn about society. You’re going to learn about those issues that you have to use in the workplace to understand social groups. Why take math if you’re never going to be a math teacher or an accountant? Because you’re training that part of your mind that can do quantitative reasoning. What job doesn’t depend on understanding data and statistics? A person who really goes into our CCC (College Core Curriculum) courses with the right attitude, thinking of it as developing different parts of the brain, is getting ready to do anything.”

Here is the full interview with Horvath. It’s long, comprehensive, and worth reading if you want to understand what you’re doing in college.

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