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Universities Should Require Every Student To Take A Variety Of Courses Outside The Student's Major Field Of Study - With A Free Essay Review

I disagree with the statement that universities should require every student to take a variety of courses outside the student's major field of study.

It is hard for a student to acquire expertise without devoting all his energy and passion to the main research field. The rapid advancing of science and society has resulted in an enormous increase in the amount of knowledge and information in each field. To digest and assimilate the masses of new knowledge, students have to focus on their major courses; otherwise they may be left behind. For example, if students want to be professional software engineers, they have to master many courses such as programming language, operation system, database, Internet, algorithms, data structure and so on. In fact, usually a student is just able to master two of those courses in one semester. And during the summer break, students should also take internship from IT companies. In this case, being required to take unrelated courses may jeopardize the limited time of students studying a major field and finally result in a low quality in education.

Some people may insist that taking courses outside major courses can provide a broader perspective for students and many professions such as biochemistry demand knowledge of more than one area. It is true that acquiring knowledge from diverse courses can provide enrichment for students. But it should not be the excuse that universities should require every student to take a variety of courses outside their main study field. First, the study pressure on students may increase significantly due to the intensive study tasks. As said before, a student with software as his major has to master very many courses in the major field of study. And he is told he can get a scholarship only when he also takes literature, history or other courses. Obviously the amount of study tasks increases. Then he may get stressed because he doesn’t have enough time to finish them. Second, forcing students to learn courses outside their major may be unrealistic and infeasible. Some students may be dispirited when they find that they are not interested in the courses given by schools or when the courses are so difficult that they cannot keep up. In these cases, students may just doze off during the class and learn nothing. Third, students would find them trapped in the sea of knowledge overload if they are asked to take courses outside their major courses. They may be confused because there is not enough time for them to assimilate the massive knowledge from so many various courses.

It is difficult for students to pursue professions without focusing on their majors. While taking diverse courses may broad one's horizon, it cannot be the excuse for forcing students to take a variety of courses outside their major courses. What the schools should do is to give advice and guidance.



There are several different sets of instructions for this prompt on the ETS website (which is why it is helpful to include the complete prompt with your essay); I am assuming that you responded to the following: "Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the claim. In developing and supporting your position, be sure to address the most compelling reasons and/or examples that could be used to challenge your position."

Your first argument is that requiring students to take a variety of courses will make acquiring expertise in a field difficult. That's a reasonable argument, and it is reasonably supported with the claim about the increase in "the amount of knowledge and information in each field." I don't think the extended example adds much to this argument. Really all that you are demonstrating when you cite the various courses that students of software engineering are required to master is the fact that you know what courses such students need to master. If necessary at all, a shorter version of your example would suffice. "Software Engineering students are required to master many different courses. Mastering two courses in a semester is a challenge, and often students must also take internships." But I don't think even that is necessary. I think you teach your reader a lot more about how you think if you elaborate your argument instead.

If I am correct (well, actually, even if I'm not correct) in assuming that you are responding here to the instructions that ask you to address the most compelling reasons or examples that could be used to challenge your position, then a good way to elaborate your argument would be to try to think of possible objections to it. One might object, for instance, that students could take a variety of courses in their first year, and then devote themselves exclusively to their major (that seems a reasonable objection, since that is how things work - and apparently it does work - in many universities). You might then counter that this solution artificially extends a student’s time in university, costing the student a lot of additional expense in texts, fees, and even opportunity (an extra year in college being a year of lost salary).

As you can see, the advantage of considering possible objections to your position is that it forces you then to develop your argument even further. You end up with a significantly more complicated argument. And as I think I've just demonstrated (by example!), complex arguments are relatively easy to develop; yet they impress much more than a list of courses.

Now in your next paragraph, you do consider a possible objection to your position generally, if not to your specific claims. The instructions ask you to consider the "most compelling reasons." One way to demonstrate that you are doing that is to explain why you think the given counter-argument appears compelling. Since you agree with the basis of the counterargument here to some extent, this should not be especially difficult. All you need to do is explain in what way you think taking a variety of courses provides "enrichment" (which in itself is a very vague term).

Your response to this objection is not very strong. Your refutation is really just based on your argument that there are good reasons (students may suffer from increased pressure or become dispirited) not to require students to take a variety of courses. What you need to do here, I suggest, is explain why, or at least claim that, these considerations are more important than those offered in support of the proposed requirement.

Best, EJ.
Submitted by: keyalin

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