Colleges want well-rounded graduates who can bring acclaim to the school.

Basic courses, typically known as general education classes, are standard requirements in virtually all degree programs at colleges and universities. Often, prior to completing required and elective courses toward specific degrees, students take general courses in areas like math, science, literature and social studies. These basic courses serve a variety of purposes.

Educational Building Blocks

While students may wonder "when will I ever use this stuff" about undesirable math or science classes, the reality is that general education skills often serve as building blocks for higher-level program courses. In marketing classes, for instance, you may be asked to calculate media efficiency rates, which compare the costs and audience size of one medium to another, or figure out how much a company budgets for advertising using a percentage-of-sales approach. Basic math coursework helps prepare you for these tasks in higher-level classes. Reading or language classes provide basic foundation in reading and writing, which are critical skills used to read textbook material, study and complete papers and reports in virtually all degree programs.

Broad Knowledge Base

A common motive for colleges to have general education requirements is to give students a broad knowledge base by the time they graduate. While you may go to college in pursuit of a particular vocation, college is also a period of transition from adolescence to adulthood. When you enter the career marketplace, your college wants you to have a broad range of knowledge that goes beyond technical competency. This makes you more intriguing to employers and more equipped to succeed in diverse jobs.

Career Flexibility

Job and career hopping have become commonplace in the early 21st century. This means that graduates often look for career options outside of their degree area. While you may have to go back to school to become a lawyer or nurse, someone with a science degree may land in a sales career by showcasing good selling skills and enthusiasm. Taking a speech communication course as a general requirement would serve him well in this scenario. A broader and deeper range of higher-level learning equips you for greater career flexibility and adaptability.

Economic Awareness

When you graduate, you become part of the economic engine in the United States. While you may work in a specific company in a particular industry, your business is part of a broader ecosystem. Basic college courses give you a greater sense of awareness of how your career impacts society. If you become a manager, for instance, psychology courses may help you better appreciate the different motives and perspectives of employees. As a business owner with a business-related degree, your basic courses prepare you to interact with bankers, city officials and community activists. You also get a general sense of how health care functions from general science coursework.