On the Redundancy of Bachelor’s Degree Requirements

Simplifying the radical. Completing the square. Finding the y and x intercepts.

These are the kinds of problems I faced in my intermediate algebra class this semester – MTH 105, for all my Central Michigan University peers. To me, they were easy. In fact, the whole course was easy, which comes as no surprise – I learned all of the material in my freshman year of high school.

To be frank, MTH 105 was a blow-off, which partly satisfies my reason for taking the course. The other pathetic excuse? Completing and passing the class satisfies a portion of my bachelor of science requirements.

This year – my junior year – I have started to hack away at the bachelor of science degree requirements. For those who do not know, CMU students must earn 24 credit hours completing and passing a series of humanity, natural science and social science courses in order to receive their bachelor of science degree.

A student has two options to achieve these credits. One is by earning 12 credits of social science, six credits of natural science and six of humanity. The other is by earning 12 credits of natural and six of social science and humanity each.

Moreover, all of these courses must be at the 100 level or above to count as credit toward the requirement.

This, however, is one of the degree’s flaws. It allows students to take any and all introductory courses in the science fields to receive credit. For many college students, like myself, many of these “beginner” classes cover information and material learned or required in high school. To many, the classes simply “refresh” in students’ minds what they already know, consequently causing absences, naps in class and extra, mindless homework, papers and projects.

Now, the naysayers – university officials and educators – would probably counteract my argument by saying students should take higher-level courses if they feel the introductory material is too easy or already learned.

My counter-counter argument (can I say that?) is simple. I would ask, “What perfect world are you living in?” Students I know aren’t going to chomp at the bit to take more difficult, time consuming classes on top of their desired, more difficult courses unless they are forced to.

If a runner has the option to run two miles or one mile to reach the finish line, bet your money he chooses the latter.

Nevertheless, I am not done with my griping. Forget the fact that students can take easy courses to earn a bachelor’s degree. Why have a bachelor of science or any other bachelor’s degree fixed requirements at all?

I’m sorry if I caused you to drop your lukewarm glass of water on the floor, but after you are done cleaning up tiny, annoying shards, think about it.

Many of the required general education and university program credits cover quite a bit of subjects and fields, several of them being similar to those in the bachelor’s degrees. Moreover, much of the information these bachelor courses teach is already conveyed in high school. So, if a student has learned most to all of the information beforehand in previous courses, why is he or she spending more money and time on classes with no real benefit?

Yes, students could take classes on subjects they did not cover in high school or through general education courses, making them more knowledgeable, well-rounded young men and women.

However, these students could also take more classes related to their major and minor, causing them to be more knowledgeable for their future careers.

Too often, I hear professors telling me that professionals in my field complain ad nauseam about how journalists and reporters fresh out of college don’t have key skills or knowledge required to do the job properly, and I don’t believe the journalism field is the only one with this problem.

If universities like CMU lowered the required credit amount for bachelor’s degrees and raised it for majors, college graduates may actually be able to land a job, move away from home and become a legitimate taxpayer.

We can dream can’t we? Now, I’m afraid to pinch myself. I may wake up in MTH 105 with a linear equation in front of me.