General education requirements, meant to ensure students get a broad education, can result in them getting no education at all, writes Watson Scott Swail, president of the Educational Policy Institute, on The College Puzzle. A majority of community college students are placed in remedial courses because they’re not prepared for the core curriculum, he writes. Less than a quarter will complete any credential.
Eliminating unnecessary gatekeeper courses could enable more students to reach their goals, Swail writes.
At Tidewater Community College in Norfolk/Virginia Beach, course requirements in diagnostic medical sonography include anatomy and physiology, mathematics, physics, English Composition, a social science elective, a humanities elective, and basic computer literacy.
. . . you understand the focus on anatomy and related technical courses. But the question remains why is it necessary to require non-related courses for graduation that, for many students, may become gatekeepers to completion?
Community college students struggle the most with math. But not everyone needs to master college algebra, writes Swail. Why make it a barrier to vocationally minded students?
“I’m not suggesting we don’t have a general core,” he writes. “I am suggesting we think very carefully about what the core is and what the benefit is to the student as well as the institution.”
Virginia community colleges have lowered math requirements for students pursuing non-STEM majors. Success rates are up.