A few weeks ago, I braved a dreary, cold ‘spring’ afternoon to attend one of the College of William and Mary’s famous campus tours with my family. My younger brother, a junior in high school, was on spring break and was touring colleges in which he was interested. I know that he, like myself, appreciated the incredible efforts of the kind tour guide who was undertaking the incredibly daunting task of getting her group of shivering, wet tourists to become enthusiastic about the College on a humorless afternoon.
Her upbeat attitude was incredibly infectious, and I found myself nodding along to most of the facts she was delivering in rapid-succession. Soon enough, however, I discovered some of the things she was saying were not necessarily true, or were slightly distorted versions of the truth which made the College seem more appealing. I applaud her for her positive portrayal of the College — but at times, I wondered, “How sincere is she really being? Does she really love everything about this place?”
The thing that made my ears perk up was her comment that she was extremely appreciative of the GER requirements, even though there were certain areas where she didn’t do as well as she may have liked. I empathized with her because I knew the feeling, although I was not sure how grateful I was for the experience.
I mean, I know the College of William and Mary is a liberal arts college. As such, it is the school’s obligation to ensure we graduate as well-rounded students, capable of utilizing multiple kinds of learning methods and interpreting an eclectic array of information. If this is not what you signed up for, then you shouldn’t have applied to a liberal arts college.
That can’t be the end of the story. Think about the kinds of GER requirements we have. If we’re supposed to be well-rounded liberal arts students, then why is there a clear focus on the humanities? Why are we required to take only one math class in our entire college experience, but I managed to fulfill all 3 components of my GER 4 requirement with history classes?
To me, that makes it seem as if we are dismissing the importance of certain subject matters and over-validating the importance of others. Why can’t there be a more equal distribution? Is it because math and sciences are not ‘traditional’ liberal arts majors, and so the College naturally expects a fewer amount of students to pursue them anyways?
That’s not what being a liberal arts student should be about. If you only take one math class, you probably have not learned enough to make an educated decision as to whether or not you want to pursue math as a major. I’m not a big science person and so I’m glad that I only have to take two science courses. But I don’t think the school should be claiming they’re trying to make us well-rounded individuals when the GER system heavily favors certain kinds of classes over others. I’m all for GERs, but if you’re going to make them mandatory, try to make them more evenly distributed across the board.