GERs are not working. It is time for the system to change.


(Flickr / toml1959)

Emory To eleven categories of general education requirements (TSG), 12 credit hours of which can be satisfied with the results of the Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) tests for a total of 18 credit hours in between. Students who had access to these programs in high school can move quickly to higher-level classes, but students who did not have access face additional demands that take up valuable time. Because of this inequity, Emory should allow students who meet departmental requirements to appeal for exemptions to specific GERs.

Schools that do not offer AP programs Course the range from elite private schools to underfunded public schools. Many independent schools including Friends of Sidwell, Dalton School, and Phillips Exeter Academy to reject the idea of ​​AP testing; instead, they opt for their own advanced courses. While students at these schools may have the skills and experiences to take courses like freshman writing and math and quantitative reasoning requirements, they can’t do it without the right marks on the right exams. .

Remote, underfunded and smaller schools find offering AP and IB programs that are difficult to implement, even when they want to. Hiring the right teachers and offering the exams is an expensive process, and some testing sites can be difficult for rural students to find. to reach. Rural secondary school districts often have smaller student populations and tend to tend to offer less AP courses as they have a hard time filling classes. For example, Ada Demling (25C), of Amherst, Mass., Was forced to enroll in a freshman writing class this spring despite writing three research papers a year in high school. She never got a chance to prove her writing skills and test the writing requirement. Her school simply didn’t offer AP English Literature or Language and Composition, and since there were no testing locations nearby, self-study was not an option. In this way, Emory’s GERs burden students from all walks of life by demanding tests that only a few can access.

The pandemic has made the AP and IB exams even more inaccessible for the 2024 and 2025 classes, mainly due to poor internet access and technological inequities. Demling found herself in such a situation, as she lived two hours from the nearest large town. “Being in a very rural area, a lot of people didn’t have WiFi and were doing hotspot from their phones. Online testing was a major concern, ”explained Demling. At the same time Demling was taking his AP Calculus remote exam in May 2020, five of the other six people in his household were using the same WiFi.

Katherine Siegel (25C), who plans to study human health and sociology, has experienced another set of headaches. As the Maine Debate Champion in 2020 and 2021, Siegel wrote over 100 well-researched essays before coming to Emory, and she was also published several times in her school journal. However, after a series of injuries during his junior year, Siegel was unable to take the AP exams in May 2020, which included AP English Literature. Despite her abilities, Siegel had to enroll in a freshman writing course for the spring semester of 2022 instead of the credit she likely would have earned on the AP exam.

Demling and Siegel are far from the only students confused by Emory’s GER exemption policy. They and many others would benefit from a modified GER exemption process that allows students to claim that they learned the content in introductory courses. That’s not to say we need to get rid of GERs all together, especially given the impoverishment of the liberal arts in Emory and their value to students. By taking GERs, we learn critical thinking, meet people outside of our bubbles, and expose ourselves to different perspectives and new topics. But the system shouldn’t force students who have already explored and demonstrated their skills in certain academic areas to take a course they already know.

The solution is simple. Emory should set up an appeal system whereby students could request to opt out of certain GERs. If the Faculty Senate were to develop a list of learning objectives for each GER, the different departments could develop exams to assess students on them. Students with the skills but not the AP scores could take these tests to prove that they do not need a particular GER. To ensure that students always have access to a variety of subjects during their time at Emory, incoming credits must be subject to the 18 credit limit imposed on the AP and IB tests.

Emory doesn’t even have to go so far as to create a whole new set of standards for accepting credit. The College Council offers a ready-made set of placement tests called the College Level Examination Program (CLEP), which offers exams in almost all of the same areas as their AP and IB counterparts. Accepting CLEP scores, in addition to dual enrollment college courses taken in high school and AP or IB scores, would make Emory’s GER system more equitable without sacrificing the liberal arts experience.

Inequality kelp the college admissions system and higher education in general, but where you come from shouldn’t determine where you go in Emory. If college is truly “the great equalizer,” Emory can’t just take the tests the lucky few can pass.

The above editorial represents the majority opinion of Wheel’s editorial board. The Editorial Board is made up of Rachel Broun, Kyle Chan-Shue, Sophia Ling, Demetrios Mammas, Daniel Matin, Daniela Parra del Riego Valencia, Sara Perez, Sophia Peyser, Ben Thomas, Chaya Tong and Leah Woldai.


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