USF requires its students to complete an exhaustive list of core requirements: public speaking, rhetoric, math, science, literature, history, philosophy, theology, ethics, social science, and art. With nearly three semesters of our undergraduate career dedicated to these 11 core requirements, there is great value in the quantity and variety of the University’s general education classes.
The argument can be made that taking a variety of classes outside of our majors broadens our horizons. If a student comes to college uncertain about what they’d like to dedicate their lives to, completing USF’s core requirements can be enlightening. Exploring multiple subjects can help students understand themselves, the University, and our greater community.
However, the amount of time that cores take can make completing them feel tedious. Whether we are in a humanities or science major, several core requirements lay outside our general area of interest. Many students may not be looking forward to completing the rest of their cores once they’ve completed the more tolerable ones. Some classes can be heavy on reading or more technical, and their level of feasibility depends on one’s academic strengths. We might also feel like our time and tuition would be better spent focusing on field work or getting more real-world experience in our majors through internships.
Regardless of the major or field one goes into, there is immense value in a broad liberal arts education. It supplies us with diverse knowledge and critical thinking skills that we can draw upon, no matter our field of work. The value comes from the versatility.
Additionally, USF uses the notion of college core requirements to create considerate members of society. With the innovative cultural diversity and service learning requirements, students are able to engage with their community and learn more about the importance of uplifting voices within our respective communities and the world at large.
It is a nice compromise that many core classes are often curated to different majors, and students are allowed to “double dip,” or fulfill two requirements with one class. For example, students can fulfill their cultural diversity requirement with a specialized literature class, or their service learning requirement with a philosophy or ethics course.
USF’s core requirements are useful because, without them, underclassmen would be forced to take upper division classes in their majors before they are academically ready to engage with such material. They would also miss out on the opportunity of stepping into other academic worlds and learning about new subjects beyond one’s limited perspectives. On top of that, not all students start their cores in their first year or take them all simultaneously, so our requirements provide a palate cleanser to help balance the rigors of our major classes.