Head-to-head: John Carroll should not have a core curriculum

Eric Fogle, Guest Columnist





This column is part of a “Head-to-Head” series. Read the counterargument by TJ Lindstrom. 

Core classes are the foundation of any education. From this base level, students build toward a specialty. Such a foundational education is instrumental, but it should end with a high school diploma. By the time a student reaches postsecondary education, a core is already established. To devote collegiate classes to the extension of this baseline is to recognize that grades kindergarten through 12 do not provide a sufficient educational core. If this is the case, it becomes impossible to argue that 30 credit hours are enough to be considered a specialty. If my entire educational foundation is considered, I will have over three times as much core experience as I do experience in my major. 

The inherent redundancy of core classes is a nuisance in high school, but in college, it becomes detrimental to education. Core classes lengthen the educational timeline and siphon credit hours that could otherwise be spent pursuing a specialty. In the absence of core classes, curricula could require an internship or other real-world experience to supplement students’ educational specialties. As it stands, collegiate core classes are an unnecessary addition to a core already established by a secondary education. 

It is true that core classes unite a variety of different educational backgrounds. However, unity in the context of core classes is forced and artificial as a result. Students wouldn’t be there if they didn’t have to be. To unite a classroom of students under this qualifier is to ensure that the class is taken, its credits swallowed and its content forgotten by all, regardless of their respective majors. Within an educational specialty, students are brought together under the notable condition that everyone wants to be there. There is a passion present in specialties that will forever be absent in core classes.

Liberal arts colleges often stress the importance of making connections between educational material. Linked courses, a core requirement at John Carroll University, are the literal manifestation of that concept. It is effective in principle but is self-defeating when it becomes a requirement. Making connections between one’s major classes is easy, but it also feels like more of a choice. Requiring synthesis undermines the very quality that linked courses encourage. If core classes exist at all, they should be supplementary, taken while being examined through the lens of an existing concentration. What makes core classes undesirable is that they are a requirement. 

Lastly, life after college does not more readily greet a student with a beefy core education. If high school is preparation for college, college should be preparation for the “real world.” The “real world” rewards specialty over competency. For example, if a firm is looking for an accountant, its employer would likely want to see more educational experience in accounting than a resume diluted with core classes the student can’t synthesize with specialty.