Rising college costs bring niche gen ed courses into scrutiny
- Schools like Amherst College offer dozens of general education course options, and while skeptics challenge the rigor of courses in video games and zombies, advocates suggest they are an ideal way to expand critical thinking, problem solving and diversity.
- The college's $2 billion endowment and $60,000 annual tuition price make the electives possible and popular among students, and the college is considering additional courses for upcoming semesters.
- Some faculty members say general education courses make for well-rounded students who can think outside of the box in work situations, but many colleges are using general education credits as a platform for professional credentialing or badging, in order to bolster student resumes.
Private institutions have far greater latitude in offering unique general education courses, and those taking this route often earn media opportunities for their effort. Acclaimed hip-hop producer 9th Wonder created a documentary of his experience as fellow at Harvard University teaching a 'Standards of Hip Hop' course, which earned additional exposure and interest from a community which, in most circumstances, would not have thought about the Ivy League institution as a repository on this form of global culture.
For institutions looking to increase diversity among students and faculty, and seeking platforms in which cultural tolerance can be embedded in the learning experience, the general education platform is an ideal post to achieve many objectives at once.