Ask a Collegiette: How to Survive Gen-Eds

Are you a smart and savvy pre-collegiette looking for answers to some of your most personal questions about college? You know, the ones about boys, classes, roommates and parties that your school’s guidance office can’t help you with? Jen is here to answer those questions! Whatever your concern, she’ll do her best to help you so you can make sure you don’t just survive college, but rock it!

I want to be an English major, but will they force me to do and pass algebra? I’m scared that not being able to pass algebra will take away my chances of getting to college and that they'll force me to do something like algebra when I’m not even majoring in anything like that! - Kennedy


Most schools have various “general education” (gen-ed) classes you need to pass in addition to the courses for your major in order to earn your degree. The classes can range from communication to math, so there’s a chance you’ll need to take and pass a math course to complete your gen-ed requirements. Each college is different in terms of which gen-ed classes you’ll need to take, and some schools – Brown University, for instance – don’t require them, so do your research before you get on campus!

The bright side of this is that you might not necessarily have to take algebra in particular to complete your math requirement. Your college will most likely offer a variety of different math courses to take, or there simply might be a “Math 101” course that covers a wide range of math topics. Search for what your school offers and talk with your advisor for suggestions. You could also talk with other students, especially upperclassmen, to see what they recommend for a student without a strong background in math.

As a journalism major speaking to a future English major, I am right by your side when it comes to being terrible at math. It’s not my favorite subject, but it’s a necessary evil when it comes to school. I ended up taking the most basic math course offered by my college in order to complete my math requirement, and it ended up being totally fine. It’s easy to get extra help from your professors, and the math we did in the class was easy to grasp, compared to every other type of math class I had taken in the past. I was even able to help out some of the other students in the class, which still baffles me because sometimes I can’t even do simple multiplication. You also might find that you can skip the tough gen-ed classes if your AP test scores from high school count as college credit – just another thing to look into!

Even though gen-ed classes suck sometimes, they can be helpful, too. I met some really wonderful friends in my math class even though I thought the content was boring. It also made me a better-rounded student, which is important when seeking a liberal arts-based degree. All of this advice applies to other pre-collegiettes too, since everyone has her own academic strengths and weaknesses. Math and science majors could be dreading an English class for example, but there are plenty of options to make sure the requirement is completed without too much hassle or stress. Whatever happens, I’m sure you’ll be able to get through it and survive your math class like a champ, since the anticipation is often the worst part. Good luck!

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