Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date

Spring 2008

Journal Title or Book Title

Long Island Education Review


Publisher's PDF


Among the largest financial decisions that a person will make, deciding whether to go to college and where to go, are a few of the highest importance. The average yearly cost to attend a four-year private college is $21,235 and to attend a fouryear public institution is $5,491 (2005-06 College Costs 2006). This significant financial investment offers an individual the opportunity to gain skills and knowledge that will last throughout life. More specifically, an undergraduate college education enables an individual to express “thoughts clearly in speech and writing, grasp abstract concepts and theories, and increase their understanding of their world and community” (Why Get a College Degree 2006). But for many, college attendance has a practical purpose, because coveted positions require successful completion of the undergraduate degree. Yet, there are varying views on how a general education curriculum should be defined. The results of a national study undertaken by the Association of Colleges and Universities found that students today require a practical integrated liberal undergraduate education. A liberal education is “a practical education because it develops just those capacities needed by every thinking adult: analytical skills, effective communication, practical intelligence, ethical judgment, and social responsibility” (Greater Expectations 2002, 26). An engaging practical liberal education must prepare students to meet expectations both in college and after graduation, regardless of the chosen institution or course of study (Humphreys & Davenport 2005). An undergraduate education is a combination of three facets of educational focus: the major – which offers depth into a discipline, the electives and/or a minor – which offer a secondary focus or exploration into a range of topics, and the breadth of general education. General education is the “part of a liberal eduation curriculum shared by all students. It provides broad exposure to multiple disciplines and forms the basis for developing important intellectual and civic capacities. General education can take many different forms” (Greater Expectations 2002, 25). The purpose of this study is to explore the different forms and features of a general education curriculum. The research questions for this study are, what is being done by the more selective top-tier insitutions? And, what can Long Island regional colleges learn from the general education curriculums offered by the more selective institutions?

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