I started my college career out as a University Scholar, which meant I had a great deal of latitude when it came to selecting classes. Since base requirements were not an issue, I decided to focus on classes that would either be more necessary or enjoyable.
After a year in the program, I eventually learned that Scholars was not the ideal path for me and switched out. What I found was a whole boatload of requirements.
I had taken classes I would enjoy as a freshman and therefore almost completed my minor in political science less than halfway through. My major was well on the way too. I had taken Great Texts, private music lessons and a bevy of other seemingly relevant classes. However, the stringency of general education requirements meant I would be struggling to finish college on time.
If a liberal arts curriculum is intended to create a well-rounded student, it’s time for Baylor to be more open-minded when dealing with course requirements.
In addition to a major and minor, there are nine university-required categories to graduate: English, math, laboratory science, history, social science, religion, foreign language, fine arts and lifetime fitness. Each piece of the curriculum makes sense for a well-rounded education; however, the means should be relaxed.
I have been playing musical instruments since I was 4 years old. I’ve taken four years of music classes at Baylor. Despite that, I had to take Introduction to Music to fulfill a fine arts requirement. I’ve had several friends participate in club sports, but many still have to spend additional hours a week signed up for intro walking in order to graduate.
How does this make sense?
The idea of producing well-rounded students through a holistic education is a noble goal and one that Baylor should strive to achieve. However, Baylor should give students the opportunity to acquire credits in a variety of ways. This is especially true when a student has previous experience in a field.
This could be easily addressed. For a student with a background in music, taking a skills test would efficiently prove mastery. Similarly, Baylor could give more opportunities for placement tests, like it does with foreign language when students enter. That way, a student would not have to spend three semesters learning concepts they were already taught.
A similar style already exists in some aspects, where students can get class credit for internships or experiences. This should be expanded to include as many introductory requirements as possible.
When students have to take a class in a field they have already mastered, it becomes a waste of both student and instructor time and effort. By giving credit for work, Baylor saves instructor effort while also giving students the opportunity to use class time as effectively as possible.
Shehan Jeyarajah is a junior journalism major from Coppell. He is the sports editor and a regular columnist for the Lariat. Follow him on Twitter @ShehanJeyarajah.