Opinion: Gen eds push college students into more unnecessary debt everyday

The average college student pays $20,000 in tuition each year. Without excessive general education requirements and irrelevant credits, this cost could be cut nearly in half. 


College is expensive, no matter who is paying for it. Whether it be parents, or the students themselves, it is often difficult to make ends meet. Parents may have been saving for 18 years, and still not have enough to cover their child’s tuition and cost of living, especially if they are supporting more than one child. Students take out loans, which they will still be burdened with years after graduating. According to the College Ave Loan Survey, out of 1,100 students, 41 percent pay for college themselves. There will always be a fee for higher education, but by cutting out redundant gen eds and “filler” credits, that fee could be much more manageable. 

I worked hard in high school, completing several dual-credit courses to hopefully shorten my time in college. Last year, when I was an incoming freshman, I was excited to learn that BHSU had reduced the general education requirements by 11 credits. This meant less time and less money, however, as I read the fine print, I realized this was not the case. Total credits needed for graduation remain the same so additional elective credit may be necessary. All that hard work, completing all but three of my gen eds, just to have to pay for random classes that have no relevance to my degree. 

University students pay approximately $200 per credit hour, per course. Most undergraduates must take anywhere between 40-60 gen ed credits; averaging to be one third to half of their degree. Meaning college students are paying at least $8,000 for classes that may not even be related to their majors.  

 Yes, there are a variety of loans, grants, and scholarships available, but most times it is still not enough. A statistic provided by sources including the Federal Reserve, College Board, and the Institution for College Access and Success, there is $1.75 trillion in total U.S. student loan debt (including public and private schools). This is an average of $29,958 owed per borrower. Typically, student loans are structured to be paid off in ten years, but it has been found that it usually takes an average of 21 years, if not longer.  

Others attempt to pay for college and the added cost of living while in school. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Education reported that 81 percent of part-time students, and 43 percent of full-time students, were employed while enrolled. In fact, most working students reported to be clocking in at least 20 hours of work a week on top of 12 plus hours of classes and homework. Not only is this taxing physically, but it can be detrimental mentally. 

This isn’t to say that courses like math and English aren’t important, but if they’re so important, why are they not being taught in high school? High school is after all supposed to prepare you for life, whether you attend a university or not. And if it is being taught in high schools, isn’t it redundant to take it again in college? Most trade schools, or those offering technical certifications, do not require any additional courses besides those directly needed for their career. Why should this be any different for someone seeking a career in marketing or accounting? 

Between tuition, fees, the cost of living and meals, college often comes with a substantial price tag. And for those seeking a graduate degree, that price tag will continue to grow. This is the way the world works, but with just a few changes, that price tag could seem a bit more affordable.