GECRs, the Hurdle Before Real College
College: a time when you can finally pursue your dreams, hone your skills and focus on your own interests rather than doing what other people think you should do. Your course of study is entirely up to you.
But first you must pass your General Education Requirement Classes, or GECRs for short.
What are GECRs? GECRs are lower-division classes where the average intelligence level would be improved by the addition of animals such as dogs or cats or even certain types of invertebrates.
It’s no coincidence that GECR is a four-letter word. I’ve never met another student who didn’t have something bad to say about GECRs.
Of course, I’ve also never met another student who didn’t have something bad to say about me personally.
Maybe I just need to get new friends.
Anyway, the point is that GECRs are frustrating for a variety of reasons. Usually, you’re being forced to take a class in something that, in addition to being excruciatingly boring, such as math or science, is also not applicable to your field, which is often a different kind of math or science.
Some of you were able to fulfill many of these requirements through Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureatetest scores from related classes in high school. You may think you’re in the clear, but just wait until you turn in your graduation application, and the university decides to “review” your “equivalencies.”
I, personally, think that GECRs are a huge waste of time. I didn’t come to a liberal-arts college because I wanted to be a well-rounded student with a mastery of basic reading, writing and mathematics skills and an appreciation for science and the arts. I came because I want to be really good at one thing or maybe two. That’s why I picked a major.
Another frequent complaint is that GECRs are taught by graduate students instead of actual professors. Many students feel that graduate students aren’t qualified to teach, not necessarily because they don’t know enough about the material but because they have not yet attained the required level of existential cynicism produced by a life in academia, which is one of the main requirements for real professorship.
The other danger created by graduate student instructors is that, because of their age, the students will see them as friends rather than authority figures.
Some lonely and confused students will even go so far as to invite their graduate instructors to social events or “Dungeons and Dragons” games, which I would like to stress is something that I, personally, have probably never done. That would be ridiculous.
Also, the level and difficulty of GECRs can vary from instructor to instructor.
Some students get extremely difficult instructors and have to break themselves just to earn a passing grade, only to learn later that their friends got a class so easy they were able to spend the entire quarter constructing elaborate fantasy role-playing scenarios during lectures and still earn a 4.0.
But the absolute worst thing about GECRs is the know-it-all-guy, or KIAG for short. (You’ll notice this is another four-letter word).
Every class has at least one know-it-all guy, who, whenever he is asked a question, gives the absolute longest possible answer every single time, just in case the rest of the students haven’t yet figured out that he is smarter than they are.
This usually continues until about the middle of the quarter, when one of two things happens: either he makes a mistake, and is so ashamed that he never speaks up again, or he makes a mistake, and is so ashamed that every answer now becomes twice as long and four times as derisive.
One of the ways I am able to stay awake through my GECRs is by imagining my professors as ancient wizards.
Much like the alchemists of old, your GECR professors are trying to transmute worthless, mundane objects, such as lead or the average college freshman, into valuable substances, such as gold.
Except instead of trying to transmute you into gold, professors are trying to transmute you into citizens who will turn out for the next local election, although we all know that’s a bit of a stretch.
Now, I don’t want to present a one-sided view of GECRs. In fact, GECRs have many benefits.
For one, they give you the chance to practice what is possibly the most useful skill you can learn in college: the ability to instantly and effortlessly forget everything you learned during the previous quarter.
Some of you think I am joking, but this skill is applicable to many areas of life. In relationships, for example, the ability to immediately forget specific pieces of information such as whose turn it is to clean the bathroom, or your mother-in-law’s birthday, often proves invaluable. And the benefits conferred upon those seeking jobs in politics or the public sector should be obvious.
Taking GECRs also gives you the chance to repeatedly fail the same class, which is very instructional for those wishing to enter the job market after graduation.
And the last good thing about GECRs is that they give you just enough knowledge for you to convince yourself that you know what you’re talking about, even though you don’t.
Without this experience, you would miss out on thousands of opportunities to unintentionally misinform your friends, coworkers and loved ones by telling them things such as “The reason global warming is a problem is because carbon only makes three bonds so the ultraviolet radiation gets trapped in the ionosphere,” which you’re convinced you learned in Chemistry 121.
So, I hope that I have impressed upon you the importance of the GECR. Even though they are frustrating and hard, they’re worth it.
Although, I will say that not being able to finish your music composition degree because you repeatedly fail math 115 is pretty embarrassing.
Views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of The Easterner.