Breaking Down the Core Experience

NYU’s College Core Curriculum does not leave enough room for students to explore within and outside of their majors.


By Viral Shanker, Deputy Copy Editor

You tear your eyes away from the computer screen as something pokes you. The girl next to you is handing you the attendance sheet. You take it — it’s the whole reason you even bother to show up. Still, as you take the sheet, you try to catch what the professor is saying. Something about Rousseau and the property? Who cares. You sign the sheet and turn to the guy next to you. He’s dozing with his head on a laptop. A couple of prods and he blinks blearily at you, takes the sheet, signs in four names and goes back to sleep.

Welcome to a Core class.

The College Core Curriculum aims to “give students in the College the skills and breadth of intellectual perspective to flourish in their major programs.” This seems, at first glance, a noble enough goal — a student in a field like, say, computer science, can pick up writing skills which could be vital for her future and would not be covered by major classes. In practice however, Core classes are a chore and a waste of students’ time and NYU’s resources.

For many, Core classes are not enriching. When it comes time to pick classes, questions like “what’s the easiest Texts and Ideas class?” fly around — and these are testament to the fact that they’re a chore, not something students legitimately want to take. Students enroll in them to tick off a box off of their graduation requirements and hopefully not tank their GPA.

The primary issue is the sheer number of classes the Core Curriculum requires for CAS students – 13 at most. That’s more than three full semesters of the eight semesters most students stay in college. For reference, a major takes around 10 classes and a minor takes four. Now, it is important to note that a major will typically fulfill at least some Core requirements, so a CAS student will have to take fewer than 13.

The truth of the matter is, to many students, college is a means to an end. A whopping 85 percent of first—years go to college to get a good job. If the Core program was cut down from 13 classes to say, four or five, students would suddenly have eight free slots for classes. Classes that would otherwise would be spent moaning, complaining and basically doing the least amount of work to get the requirement complete. A minor or even another major could give students an edge in the job market that Core classes simply don’t. Or, a student could simply graduate a year early, saving herself tens of thousands at NYU and still have a degree.

Again, at its core, the Core Curriculum is solid — there are some skills that every budding adult, regardless of major, should know. NYU needs to trim the fat, only keeping vital classes like Writing the Essay and Quantitative Reasoning. Not only will these relaxed requirements give students more room to explore, but it will lead students to take classes they might actually stay awake in.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Dec. 3 print edition.

Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them. 

 Email Viral Shanker at [email protected]