ENTERING college is almost a luxury now, especially in private schools with high tuition. To many parents and students, enrollment means months or even years of toil and expenses.

This makes it imperative for students to get straight to what they need from their four or five years stay in the University. Often, parents and students ask the rationale for certain general education, minor and major subjects being required for students to take, which may seem remote or unnecessary to the given specializations.

For instance, some colleges and faculties insist in offering “general” subjects that have become highly specialized they cease to be of general interest.

The idea behind the requirement to take general and other minor subjects is to give students some recycle-bin refreshers of what they already took in basic education. Since it is presumed students who passed the University’s entrance exams have already basic knowledge, the units reserved for general and minor courses must be modest. Teachers of these subjects must not comfort themselves like intellectual major-domos: unduly demanding as if their minor subjects are as vital as the major ones. Some minor subjects are taught only to meet course curriculum quotas, or to serve the whims and pockets of professors wishing to preach what they want, not what the students need.

Not that general subjects must be thrashed. By studying a broad range of studies (mathematics, English, Filipino, history, politics, literature, theology, sciences, etc.), one acquires varied knowledge and skills, so as to adapt to jobs unrelated to one’s specialization after graduation. It also helps to be acquainted with other fields that one could pursue for higher studies.

'Cancel foreign debts' - Fr. Fausto Gomez

But units and requirements from general subjects must be limited. For the same general subject to be served twice or thrice in basic and advanced levels amounting to six or nine units, covering one and a half years, is oppressive. Instead of being experts in their own fields, graduates may end up scatterbrained, jack-of-all-trades with no mastery of any given discipline.

Some minor subjects like Spanish may be better offered as electives. A variety of foreign languages can be suited into the course of students. Asian languages like Mandarin, Japanese and Korean can serve Asian Studies students well (Korean-English training has become lucrative), while Latin can be offered to students pursuing humanities, law-related and biological science courses, which require dexterity in Latin root words, legal jargons and scientific names.

Other minor subjects are redundant, mere outgrowths, and can be merged and contextualized as single studies. The units saved can be traded for more in-demand, practicable, and promising subjects like information technology, health sciences, computer applications, and other trainings that companies expect to see from resumes.

Now some major subjects must be rationalized too. Overloading students with too much units can lessen their comprehension of their subjects. The College of Science, in fact, has decreased its students’ science units, following the curricula of European schools. The University may do so for its other academic programs since it is autonomous from the Commission on Higher Education.

Students deserve the lessons in accordance with their chosen career path and the demands of realities after school. “What matters is practical life,” educator John Dewey said, “and education’s task is to make this easier and richer.” William Ockam advised something similar: “Entities must not be multiplied unnecessarily.”

Diwa ng Kabataan

In academic offering, it is wise for a school to keep things simple. Superfluous subjects and lessons will just gather dust in students’ brains. Forced into their minds, such lessons would only be unlearned after.


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