Not so general education

With class registration rapidly approaching, students are trying to figure out which general education courses to take.

With 40 credits of required courses, interesting classes can make the requirements less tiresome.

For Honors College students, there is even more of a taskin addition to their 40 credit hours of required courses, Honors College students are required to make 12 of those credits Honors College gen. eds.

Fritz McDonald, chair of the general education committee, said that the success a student has in a general education course is dependent on his or her interests.

“Students who have a major plan are most interested in courses in that field,” McDonald said.

But when a student doesn’t know what field they’re going into, or if the general education options aren’t really fitting with the students’ major, it can be tough finding interesting courses.

The Honors College offers many different classes for students to take. From courses on gaming, lyrics, TV shows and more, there’s a wide variety for students to choose from.

John Wermuth, professor for the “To Game or Not to Game” Western Civilization course, said that it’s important for students to learn beyond the norm.

“Students should gain perspective beyond rhetoric. Typically, classrooms are full of regurgitating information. This isn’t always bad, but there’s more to the world than that,” Wermuth said. “I want students to gain a bit of perspective of the world around them.”

His course, while fulfilling the Western Civilization gen. ed. requirement, will appeal to not only those who like video games, but according to Wermuth, “students who don’t like video games will get a different perspective. It might open their eyes up a bit, and they might get a bit more out of it.”

Arguably one of the most popular general education options the Honors College offers is the course on “Downton Abbey.”

The course explores life during Edwardian England but also incorporates Oakland’s own history of Meadow Brook Hall. Randall Engle, the professor of the course, explained who would enjoy it.

“I’ve been surprised that the ‘typical’ student enters the class having never even seen ‘Downton Abbey,’” Engle said. “The appeal is not the show. The appeal, I hope, is the immersion into another world: the world of Meadow Brook, the world of ‘Downton Abbey.’”

Doris Plantus teaches a slightly different course: “The Poetry of Lyrics: Storytelling with Music.” Her course, as well at other Honors College courses, aims to examine lyrics throughout history and how stories are told through them.

“Poetry, without music, tries to be music through lyrics. Lyrics aren’t just there to give something to say, the lyrics have to combine with the music to have a meaning,” Plantus said.

She explains that her course, and by extension the Honors College courses, are different than normal general education courses.

“Gen. ed. suggests ‘general knowledge,’” she said. “This is different. It takes it out of normal expectations and situates it somewhere else. Just because it’s a gen. ed. doesn’t mean it’s ordinary.”

However, students who are not part of the Honors College still have some interesting options to explore. The “Foundations of Rock” course, taught by Carly Uhrig, meets both the arts gen. ed. and the US diversity gen. ed.

“I think students enter a Monday evening class afraid that they’ll spend the whole time trying to stay awake,” she said. “Instead, most find that I’m very high energy and bouncing off the walls. I really think that any student would like this. There is definitely something in there for everyone.”

Despite the interesting general education options on campus, McDonald explained not all students have smooth sailing with their courses.

“The biggest problem we see is that students often don’t check with their advisers until it’s too late and don’t realize they missed a gen. ed. requirement until they’re trying to graduate,” he said.

Deborah Cash, one of the First Year Advising Center advisers, explained what the center does for students struggling with planning their gen. eds.

“The general education courses are the foundational body of knowledge for all students,” Cash said. “Our department guides students on meeting the requirements for their major and helping them find a balanced schedule with regards to the checklist and four-year plan.”

Class registration starts at the end of the month. For specific dates of when to register, students are encouraged to talk to their advisers and plan their schedules now. Classes for the next three semesters are available to see online.