When sitting in one of your Gen. Ed. classes, have you ever thought, “Why in the hell am I here?” Students typically ponder as to why they are sitting in a class that they don’t (think) they really need, no matter what institution they go to. So with that being said, we asked a few students and faculty members what their opinions were on the General Education Program here at SJU. Because St. Joe’s is a liberal arts school, we are required to take general education classes. At surface level, underclassmen tend to not mind their first year seminar (FYS) or their first semester Gen. Ed’s.
We put a poll out on Instagram for students to tell us whether or not they enjoyed whatever FYS they took. While a majority did say “yes!”, about half as many students responded “no..” Overall, students seem to be okay with the FYS requirement. However, opinions on the entire General Education Program change drastically from lower to upperclassmen, and from staff members, as well.

Student Opinions

Sophia is a freshman, part of the SJU class of 2022. Unlike some of the upperclassmen who develop a stigma for Gen. Ed courses, she actually enjoys her English class! Her professor is deeply dedicated to the material, which helps a lot with keeping the students engaged. She actually gave a lot more praise to her teacher, Dr. Knebels, for giving interesting writing prompts that challenge the students to make something good. So one thing is certain, who you have as a professor for Gen Ed’s matters!
Brianna Love, class of 2021 Pharmaceutical Marketing major, is currently taking Theology, History, and Philosophy 154, which are the most commonly known Gen. Ed’s here at Saint Joe’s. She said that she prefers Philosophy 154 the most out of the three because it is the easiest to her, and theology the least because she doesn’t want to learn about religion; but altogether, she believes that these Gen. Ed’s, in particular, are “a waste of time” and would rather be taking courses that go towards her major.
Pierce English, class of 2020 Political Science major, has taken Theology, Philosophy, and a Religious Difference course so far. He says that taking Gen. Ed’sare a “hit or miss” situation. His perception of taking Gen. Ed’s is based on who taught the course; he said that because his teachers for Philosophy and Theology were “down to Earth,” that made taking the taking the class easier. However, he did not like his professor for his religious difference course because he gave off a “you have to take this course, so get over it” vibe.
Griffin Fitzgerald, a class of 2019 Economics major, transferred to Saint Joe’s his sophomore year. So even though he has no opinions on first year seminar, he has plenty to say regarding the sheer amount of Gen. Ed’s he’s taken. Being one year behind, Griffin has had to make up for lost time by taking more Gen. Ed’s per semester. According to him, he takes less classes filling out his major than he does keeping up with the school’s overall curriculum. While he understands the school’s Jesuit background calls for extensive classes on religion, he thinks the amount of classes we have to take is ludicrous.

Staff Opinions

Imani Briscoe graduated SJU in 2017, and now works as a Program Coordinator for Student Inclusion and Diversity. She gave her opinion on what she thinks about Gen. Ed Courses here at SJU.

We also interviewed Dr. Brian Yates, a history professor who specializes in the history of Africa and their culture, who is currently teaching History 154. He expressed that he generally enjoys teaching the class because he gets the opportunity to teach the class the way he wants to, and that he share his knowledge with his students about something is passionate about. Dr. Yates believes that taking general education courses are vital to one’s education and that the liberal arts, or in this case Gen. Ed’s, are constructed to challenge one’s thinking. Yates stated that what students need is not just training for one’s intended field, but to learn “how to think.”
Whether you are a staff member professor or not or a student, you’re going to have some type of opinion on the purpose of the system of General Education classes.

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