(Soft-core Curriculum, Hard-core Costs)

The costs of attending MSU have increased over the past decade. Annual tuition rates for undergraduate residents have grown by $1000 since 2008, while nonresident rates have increased by over $5000. Additionally, room and board rates are nearing $9000. Overall, resident and nonresident undergraduate students this year are spending an estimated average of $20,099 and $35,331 respectively. College is impractically expensive and burdens students with unreasonably high amounts of debt. That leaves little desire to remain in college any longer than necessary. Naturally, students want to get in and out of college quickly with minimal detours. However, a multitude of requirements must be fulfilled before any student can leave MSU with a degree. For example, students must waste countless hours trying to pass courses outside of their major.

MSU is federally obligated to provide its students a “liberal and practical education” as well as “broaden their cultural horizons.” What this entails is requiring students to take specific courses, regardless of their majors, to meet these obligations. But just how effective is this style of education? Through MSU’s common core curriculum (Core 2.0), an engineering student may be tasked with learning music theory or the ethics surrounding good and evil, while an aspiring artist would be required to interpret contemporary literature or statistics. A mathematician would hardly find benefit in attending a philosophy course. From a student’s perspective, most core courses are nothing more than high-priced hindrances. In the university’s eyes, Core 2.0 has purpose: “to ensure a wide-ranging general education.” Regardless of how the core curriculum is perceived, it is undesired among students. Hardly anyone hires a taxi to take the most indirect, circuitous route to their destination. Yet, students are left without choice in adding 30 credits of core courses to their workload.

Core curriculums also place certain students in disadvantageous positions. A humanities student may struggle in science courses due to an overall lack of interest, motivation, or even understanding, as it may not come as naturally to a student of the humanities field as it would a student with a scientific mindset. Similarly, a sciences student may fail to perform in a humanities course. The student’s grades and finances then suffer. Should a student be unable to acquire a C in any Core 2.0 course, they would not get credit and that class would not fulfill the Core 2.0 requirement. The concept is rather absurd when considering punishing a botanist for their inability to write creative non-fiction.
There are successful alternatives to the core curriculum educational system, though. For example, students could just focus on their majors and graduate earlier. Universities in the United Kingdom do not generally maintain a core curriculum and thus, their students are able to graduate in three years. A shorter college experience would be a quite welcomed choice in the United States given that the average graduate of 2015 has over $35,000 of debt, making our generation’s students the most indebted in our country’s history. Is adding a fourth year of college for core courses to “broaden cultural horizons” really worth drawing another loan? Yes, when considering it is actually a necessity in completing applied homelessness courses.

  • Isak Petersen

    I respectfully disagree. What career requires that a person only has knowledge of a specific field with zero outside information? This type of single-track education breeds subordinate employees, not successful leaders. Having a broader knowledge base ensures that a student will leave this university with some information that will, at the very least, be able to succeed in the real world before they get into their specified field. If you look at the fact that 44% of recent graduates are employed in jobs that require no college degree, this broad base becomes more important.

    Furthermore, the core system allows students to explore a variety of classes so that they can make an informed decision for their career (which they will likely work in for 5+ decades when one considers Social Security’s standing) instead of blindly walking in the direction that their high school counselor pointed.

    Finally, these core classes actually have a wide range of topics within them. The quantitative reasoning reasoning core (Q) has all of the obvious courses such as algebra, varying levels of calculus, and statistics, but also courses like “Logic” in the philosophy department, and “Secrets of the Infinite”. If one spends the time looking at the possible courses, it is not at all difficult to find ones that are at least somewhat interesting. Most students are not mindless androids only capable of doing one task. *Must-execute-derivative*

    If the biggest problem is college affordability, them maybe that issue should be addressed instead of course load. Let’s cure the cause instead of bandaging ourselves into a scarred future.