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Angelo DiTocco

My experience of adjusting to college over two years ago was obviously not a cakewalk. There were a lot of aspects of higher education that I was not familiar with. But the one thing about this school that really made my eyes pop out and my jaw drop to the floor was the sheer amount of general education credits needed to graduate. This number sits at nearly a dozen for most of us, and the administration has even decided to burden this year’s freshmen with two more requirements, the “Critical Thinking” and “Information Literacy” credits. Not only does this mountain of gen-ed requirements prevent students from taking electives in fields they are actually interested in, but sometimes these classes won’t even fit into students’ schedules at all, forcing them to spend extra money to take them over the winter or summer.

So what’s the point of making students jump through all these hoops just to obtain their degrees? Supporters of gen-eds tend to say that their purpose is to make students more well-rounded. However, their definition of “well-rounded” is questionable. When I think of the skills that a well-rounded individual would have, writing essays about obscure historical topics and integrating with u-substitutions are not the first two things that come to mind. 

The skills that do come to mind are those that reflect one’s ability to live a balanced and independent life. Unfortunately, those skills are often absent from today’s youth, whom you’ll hear using the term “adulting” to refer to their struggles to complete basic tasks. Classes on “Global Interdependencies” don’t seem to be helping with that.

It’s unlikely that this will ever change for the better. Even if Stenger himself wanted to overhaul the system of gen-ed requirements, whatever state officials are breathing down his neck would have other ideas. But a man can dream, and dream I will. So here are a few ideas for gen-eds that would be way better than the ones we have now.

Culinary Arts

It’s common knowledge that anyone born after 1993 can’t cook. This is evidenced by the fact that fast food places can make their burgers as expensive as $10 and still make a profit because zoomers don’t know any better options. So why not put students through a culinary arts class? Here, students will pick up the most efficient food preparation and cooking techniques while learning how to keep themselves safe in the process. Once that’s done, they’ll be able to put their skills to the test with a new recipe every week or so. Fans of the “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice” credit will be pleased to see a curriculum that includes cuisines from around the world (except for Britain; we can all live without beans on toast). The course would also cover topics such as shopping on a budget and making meals in advance to ensure that even students who are short on time and money can still make good use of the material they’ve learned.

Personal Finance

Another skill in which this new generation seems to be lacking expertise is managing money. A personal finance course would familiarize students with all the skills they need for that. Topics like budgeting and saving for retirement will ensure that they get the most out of the money that they do have, while lessons on investing strategies can help them get some extra cash on the side. Students will also be equipped with the ability to navigate the unnecessarily complex fields of taxes and insurance. Career-related topics such as applying for jobs and creating an effective resume can possibly fit here as well.

Home Skills

There may be a time when the average member of Generation Z will finally have enough money to own a house. If that’s ever the case, then they will need to know how to maintain their property. This class would prepare its students to deal with whatever issues may plague their humble abodes. No longer will people need to pay hundreds of dollars to a plumber or an electrician for something that they could fix in a few minutes with the right knowledge. And why stop at stuff around the house? Knowing how to fix a leaky faucet is important, but so is knowing how to change a tire.

Going back to the home, while we’re at it, why not cover a bit of interior design as well? That’ll hopefully put a stop to the epidemic of living spaces that look like this:

Physical Activity

Finally, here’s the one gen-ed requirement that Binghamton actually gets right. Modern technology is creating a generation of couch potatoes, so it’s important that students get acquainted with some form of exercise. Even if they don’t become preworkoutmaxxed gigachad powerliftersTM, they’ll still have an activity that they can rely on to keep them in shape. We don’t want our country’s 40% obesity rate to increase to 50%, after all.


I hate to be That Guy who makes complaints like, “why does school teach us all this useless stuff,” but it’s clear that the gen-ed system in its current state could use some massive improvements. Under the new set of gen-ed requirements that I’ve outlined, rather than trying to comprehend 50 pages of word salad every week or struggling to memorize math formulas they’ll never use, students will be engaged with hands-on lessons that they can immediately apply to their everyday lives. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll have a generation of young adults who actually know what they’re doing.

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