Elizabethtown College requires a core program, and while a number of people love it, others do not really care for it. Some students feel as though taking courses outside of their major is a waste of time, but a part of the student population believes it has opened up new doors for them.
The forty-four credit hours consist of courses in the following areas: language, mathematics, creative expression, western cultural heritage, natural and physical sciences, social sciences and humanities. All students are also required to partake in a First Year Seminar which is a total of four credit hours. The core program is utilized by Etown to better educate students in disciplines other than their selected majors. Some skeptics may ask: what if a student has already picked out a major? Or why is there a need for students to take classes in disciplines which they already studied and passed in high school?
Professor April Kelly-Woessner, chair of the core committee, believes the core offers endless rewards for college students.
“College education should be freeing. Liberal Arts means free. Your education should allow you to pursue different paths after college,” she said. Students begin taking the core classes early in their college education in order to give them more options, Kelly-Woessner explained. “The College would be negligent if it did not offer options to the students.” When asked why she feels the core is such an important program, Kelly-Woessner said, “First and foremost it is mandated by the state of Pennsylvania to have a core curriculum consisting of at least forty credits when pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree.”
With such requirements, it seems as though it is even more important to participate in the curriculum. “When you leave here you should have a basic understanding of the world in which you live, which will in turn provide students with the skills to be active citizens and good leaders in society,” Kelly-Woessner said. She also makes it clear that the core program will be beneficial to students’ futures, both in and out of the workplace.
The College’s goal is to make students well-rounded as well as marketable in preparation to enter the work force. Even if a student may not be using certain material from a course, the skills they gain from it may be useful in other instances.
“The evidence is that students gain thinking, reasoning and analytical skills in courses outside of their major, even if a student may not see how…the skills will be useful and will transfer,” Kelly-Woessner claimed. She believes that the core is a useful tool in helping students develop skills which they may not have developed in their own majors and become well-rounded students.
Not everyone believes that the core is a beneficial required curriculum. Kristy Castellini, a senior communications major, doesn’t believe the core was very useful in her college career. “I think the core program can be stressful at times. It is a good thing to get a well-rounded education, but at the same time it would be nice to just put all your effort in your major,” Castellini said. She understands the purpose of the core curriculum but she does not agree with it. However, as a result of the social science requirement, she found a minor. “I took sociology and ended up liking it enough to minor in it.” Even with the core proving successful in broadening students’ horizons and aiding them in finding new interests, Castellini stated, “The program can be beneficial to certain students, not all, due to certain majors, but overall I wish there was never core classes.”
Sophomore Erika Klitsch, biology and studio art major, believes core has been beneficial to her college experience. When asked if she has enjoyed taking classes outside of her major she responded, “Yes, it gives me a break from my difficult classes associated with my major.” Not only have the core classes been enjoyable for Klitsch, but she also has found interest in courses she never thought she would. “I took art history to fulfill my western cultural heritage core, and I am now considering minoring in it.” It is apparent that the core curriculum has been beneficial to Klitsch’s college career thus far even though she is just beginning her second year.
The core curriculum here at Etown is both well-thought out and productive. It gives students options. In a time where jobs are hard to come by, it is important that students are well-rounded and graduate from Etown with the knowledge and skills to do multiple jobs. I believe that this institution is making the attempt to prepare its students for anything that may come their way after graduation. The core can only become more successful in its attempt to broaden student’s horizons.