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General Education and Integrative Requirements at UH Hilo

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Why does UH Hilo have General Education and Integrative requirements?

The degree you receive is more than just a piece of paper. It is a symbol of the quality of the education that you received. The faculty at the University of Hawai╩╗i at Hilo believe students benefit most from a well-rounded education that exposes them not only to what they need to know but also how to think critically and interact effectively with the world around them. This means you should take a wide range of courses that go beyond just their major or area of concentration and be open to pushing your intellectual boundaries beyond your comfort zone. In fact, a quality general education will help you be the most effective you can be as an active citizen of your community, as an employee, as a leader, and as a family member.

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What am I going to be learning through the General Education curriculum?

In an Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U) survey, a majority of employers indicate that colleges should place greater emphasis on a variety of learning outcomes, including the following:

  • Knowledge of human cultures and the physical and natural world
    • Concepts and new developments in science and technology (70%)
    • The ability to understand the global context of situations and decisions (67%)
    • Global issues and developments and their implications for the future (65%)
    • The role of the United States in the world (57%)
    • Cultural diversity in America and other countries (57%)
  • Intellectual and practical skills:
    • The ability to communicate effectively, orally and in writing (89%)
    • Critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills (81%)
    • The ability to analyze and solve complex problems (75%)
    • Teamwork skills and the ability to collaborate with others in diverse group settings (71%)
    • The ability to innovate and be creative (70%)
    • The ability to locate, organize and evaluate information from multiple sources (68%)
    • The ability to work with numbers and understand statistics (63%)
  • Personal and social responsibility
    • The ability to connect choices and actions to ethical decisions (75%)
    • Civic knowledge, civic participation, and community engagement (52%)
  • Integrative learning

With this in mind UH Hilo’s General Education and Integrative requirements are designed to cultivate the very skills and knowledge that employers consider of vital importance. They also happen to be the earmarks of educational excellence.

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IÔÇÖm interested in earning my degree as quickly as possible. Why should I care about getting a General Education?

We hope that students will see the inherent value of a broad-based, liberal arts education. But even if you aren’t yet convinced, there are practical reasons that GE benefits you. During these tough economic times, the investment you make in getting a college education will mean a huge return for you and your family in the coming years. Individuals with a college degree are half as likely as those with only a high school education to be unemployed during a recession, and four-year college graduates will earn nearly $1 million more over their working lives than will those with only a high school diploma.

So, when you graduate in four years, you want your degree to be regarded as an asset to potential employers. Consider the following findings that have been excerpted from a 2010 survey report commissioned by the AAC&U:

  • Employers want their employees to use a broader set of skills and have higher levels of learning and knowledge than in the past to meet the increasingly complex demands they will face in the workplace.
  • When it comes to future hiring, employers indicate that their greatest increase in emphasis will be on hiring graduates from four-year colleges.
  • Only one in four employers believes that colleges are doing a good job in preparing students for the challenges of the global economy. A majority of respondents think that colleges need to make at least some improvements to prepare students for the global economy, including one in five who thinks that significant changes are needed.

Most importantly:

  • Employers believe that college graduates, to ensure long-term career success, need to develop both a broad range of skills and knowledge and in-depth skills and knowledge that apply to a specific field or position.

Therefore, keep in mind that the courses you take to satisfy major requirements help provide depth in your skills and knowledge, while the courses you take to meet GE standards provide the breadth which future employers seek. This is why you need to take both kinds of courses in order to maximize your learning and marketability. Association of American Colleges & Universities.

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  • Hurley, D.J. (2009, November). Considerations for State Colleges & Universities in a Post-Recessions America. American Association of State Colleges & Universities: Washington, DC.
    • College Board. (2007). Education Pays 2007: The Benefits of Higher Education for Individuals and Society. New York: author.