Anna Martina writes for the Martin Center about a void in college students’ preparation for life.

When students think back to their college days, they may remember a philosophy class that made them question their life or an art class they thought would be easy, but gave them the most stress that semester.

However, when graduates get a job and need to set up a retirement account, apply for a credit card, or find housing, few have learned those skills from their time in college. North Carolina State University, for example, offers hundreds of courses in their General Education Program (GEP), but life skills aren’t the focus of any of them.

If NC State revamped its general education requirements, it could cut out fluff classes, teach students important life skills, and strengthen the liberal arts.

NC State requires 120-125 credits to graduate, depending on the department in which students study. As of 2009, 39 credits must be from the GEP course list. NC State explained the benefits of required courses as shaping well-rounded individuals for an interconnected world.

The cost of those core courses, though, adds up. With tuition and fees, NC State is the second most expensive public university in North Carolina. Full-time students will pay $8,497 for the 39 required GEP credits. Out-of-state students will pay approximately $34,650. Yet, when students look at GEP classes, they find many faddish or unorthodox offerings.

The current course catalog for GEP classes leaves much to be desired. Rather than educating students to be independent and well-rounded, students can choose from narrowly tailored courses that are fashionable but don’t prepare them for their postgraduate life. …

… NC State can better prepare its students by teaching practical skills alongside a traditional liberal arts approach. Done correctly, a core curriculum furthers a university’s mission and students will appreciate it in the future even if they complain about taking classes outside their major.