Opinion | Take your gen eds early

Gen eds should be taken Freshmen and Sophomore year to explore new interests.


Luke Krchak, Opinions Contributor

General education courses may seem like a box to fill to graduate.

But taking these courses, known as gen eds, early on in your academic career at the University of Iowa can give students a feel for what they are interested in and potential majors and minors to add.

Students should take full advantage of all the gen eds offered because they can help find new interests or evolve old ones.

When I was a freshman, I knew I wanted to major in something history-related, so many of my gen eds were history-based.

During the spring 2022 semester, I took my first art history class — Mona Lisa to Modernism — for the literary, visual, and performing arts general education requirement. Taking that class made me fall in love with art history and start to major in it.

Taking that class allowed me to experience a subject I had no prior knowledge or experience in.

Gen eds  in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences are classes that are meant to help you succeed in a variety of disciplines. There are three major groupings: communication and literacy; natural, quantitative, and social sciences; and culture, society, and the arts.

Communication and literacy consists of courses like rhetoric and interpretation of literature, which help you refine how to read and write in different styles. Natural, quantitative, and social sciences take more of a quantitative look at the world to describe phenomena statistically. Culture, society, and the arts, consists of your history and a variety of creating writing or art. They deal with describing the world qualitatively.

While some requirements will be used depending on the major, each represents a core skill that aids students academically and in their life after college.

Maureen Schafer, UI Academic Advisor Center assistant provost and director, encourages students to work with advisors to help plan and connect classes with students’ interests.

“The exciting thing about advising is to see the new paths that open up to students,” Schafer said.

Each student has their own interests, their own career plans, and their own lives that shape how schedules are planned. Taking all your gen eds early on in your college career is the best plan. Students should work with their advisors to best choose how to arrange gen eds in your schedule early on.\

All College of Liberal Arts departments at the UI share the same gen ed requirements, which often allows counts for major classes as well. This gives students, like me, the opportunity to try subjects first before settling into the major.

Taking classes, especially gen ed classes early on, allows you to find new possibilities while meeting requirements to get your degree.

Students entering the UI should take full advantage of the wide range of classes available. Don’t just fill the requirement, but find classes that interest you and give you a variety of subjects to study during your coursework at the UI.

I may not have come to the UI as an open major, but gen eds helped me solidify what I wanted to major in and what career paths I wanted to take. Gen eds make the sky the limit for what you can do and experience during the UI.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.