Why is there a Core Curriculum in College?

I have never understood why there are required core classes when students are at such a high level in their education: college. This is the time where students already should know which direction to take in their life. They should spend these last years of their education to immerse in a direction where they only focus on their major.

Instead of wasting two years of the college education having classes they have no interest in, they could be done within two years only focusing on the major, or four years of getting more knowledge about their major.

If you already know what you want your major to be, having core classes is not only a waste of time, but also money. Spending about two out of four years of college on required classes, results in a twice as expensive education.

“Honestly, I think it is a little ridiculous that after 12 years of education, a university/college will demand a student to take certain classes. College is optional, and when paying such an immense amount of money on tuition, I would have hoped that I could shape my own education to a greater extent,” sophomore student Lise-Marie Frydenberg said.

A lot of the core classes have nothing to do with the major. For example as a Communication major, I don´t think it is necessary to take a math, or a natural science class.

The American educational system is largely based on every student receiving an extensive education, where they learn about all types of sciences and liberal arts. In other countries in the world, like Norway, higher education is mainly focused on a certain major or program to qualify for a specific occupation. Only spending time focusing on one direction, gives the students more depth in their major, which also gives them more knowledge about it.

Associate dean and professor of Special Education, Elizabeth Brennan, as a proponent of liberal arts education and Core coursework said: “It is important for individuals to be flexible in today’s world. People need to leave college with the ability to respond to changes in the economy and workforce rather than ‘train’ to a specific job. Foundational coursework gives students the broad base and soft skills necessary to be successful.”

“We have core requirements because we know that curriculum and strategies will change for teachers along the way but foundational information about educational history, human development, diversity, etc. will not change as much,” Brennan said.

The knowledge in today’s world is only growing. How can we define what is “core” knowledge when we are surrounded by this huge amount of different information? Since the knowledge is constantly changing, the “core” knowledge should also be changing constantly as a result.

Students have already spent four years of high school with core classes that can help them figure out what they like and not like, and what they wish to continue doing. There they learn about the broader specter of different knowledge that should prepare them for college and deciding a direction within those classes they had.

As a society to function properly, we need people to have knowledge in different areas. Even though college students spend two years focusing on their major, it would of course be better if they spent four years, getting more knowledge and depth in their major, rather than spending time in classes they have no interest in.


Annica Norrie Moe
Freelance Writer
Published May 6th, 2015