The Value of Liberal Arts Courses

I was a liberal arts major at Penn State University. I graduated from the College of Arts and Architecture. Although my major was Music History and Literature, there were lots of other liberal arts courses enhancing my music-specific classes. I credit these courses for stretching my understanding of the world around me.

Today, many students (and especially their parents) are strongly focused on what's known as “pre-professionalism." That is, they want to take the shortest trip between high school and a solid job that pays well and offers hope for a lifetime career. The road they prefer to take through college to arrive at that preferred destination should be, they hope, filled with practical, hands-on courses that apply directly to the desired work's skills. So what should we think of those courses that fall outside of the pre-professional category, the ones that don't instill hands-on skills?

I'm talking about so-called “core curriculum" courses. What is a core curriculum and why do colleges require their students to take those courses?

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