What Does General Studies Prepare You For?
By Dr. Kathryn A. Broyles
Associate Professor, Arts & Humanities, at American Public University
Journalist and writer H.L. Mencken insisted, “You can’t do anything about the length of your life, but you can do something about its width and depth.” Deciding to pursue a degree in general studies and then doing something meaningful with that degree can translate into studying widely and then living deeply.
Pursuing a degree in general studies is deciding to embark on a challenging, yet flexible, college education that draws on a variety of courses from across the university. More often than not, degrees prepare students for a singular career path; pursuing a general studies degree allows students to hone the reading, writing, and critical thinking skills necessary to thrive in any professional setting.
A general studies degree provides a strong liberal arts foundation. The curriculum provides the opportunity to draw on the expertise offered across disciplines in a way that allows synthesis of knowledge and flexibility with decision making. Like all educational programs, general studies has the potential to transform the student, inviting him or her to explore a more complex and nuanced understanding of life’s challenges and opportunities. Having had the opportunity to pursue real interdisciplinary research, students who move from the classroom to the workplace can offer their employers and colleague innovative ideas and solutions.
According to The College Board: “In a general studies major you’ll build a broad-based education. You won’t learn the skills you’ll need to do a certain job. Instead, you’ll learn how to think critically, communicate effectively, and pull together knowledge from many disciplines–skills you’ll need to be successful in almost any career.”
Some alumni with a B.A. in General Studies from APU have gone on to earn promotions within their current careers. Many have successfully made the transition from the military to careers in business, law enforcement, teaching, and other fields. Many have become entrepreneurs. Numerous alumni have continued their education at the graduate level. More than one has gone on to study law or medicine after coupling additional pre-professional courses with their general studies degree.
A degree in general studies provides the breadth of education that affords students the knowledge to pursue depth as their life, opportunities, and interests lead them. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “There is nothing more tragic than to find an individual bogged down in the length of life, devoid of breadth.”
About the Author
Rev. Dr. Kathryn A. Broyles is an associate professor of English, philosophy, and religion and former Director of General Education & General Studies for American Public University System. Her current research concerning online learning and nontraditional students is particularly focused on supporting the success of veterans and their families, as well as first-generation college students.