Hurrah for OLE Core

The start of first semester came with a big change to the liberal arts programming of St. Olaf College. OLE Core has now replaced the old general education system and, for better or worse, first-year students are stuck with it, while the rest of us are forced to navigate whether or not we should (or can) switch requirement systems. Well fear not, because we’re about to go over the pros and cons so you can decide for yourself what is best. Unless you are a freshman, in which case your ship has sailed.

First, the potential positives of the new system include fewer total required courses. The old system required between 23 and 26 courses depending on your language placement. The OLE Core system, on the flip side, requires only between 16 and 18 courses depending on your language placement. This system notably drops the four ‘Writing in Context’ GE’s in favor of a more structured application of writing skills in the form of a first- and second-year writing course, and one major related writing course. This is cause for celebration among incoming science and math majors as it will likely give them much more flexibility in their future schedules.

Now that we have established the positive side of the new set-up, it’s time to talk about what students are losing in this structural change. The biggest blow dealt by the new OLE Core system is by far students’ inability to knock out two or three requirements with a single class. Gone are the days when you could rack up an insane amount of Human Behavior and Society (HBS) credits for absolutely no reason. OLE Core stipulates that even in the rare case that a class covers more than one requirement, the student must choose which of the two requirements they want filled by the course.

In conclusion, it seems OLE Core is a much more streamlined and understandable system for liberal arts teachers and students to follow. The fact that you can no longer tackle multiple requirements with a single class in OLE Core is disheartening, but in reality, there are far fewer courses required than by the previous GE system. This streamlined structure means students will likely be spending less time chasing down requirements. This possibility is a positive development for students at St. Olaf College, even if it doesn’t help many of the upperclassmen still resigned to the old system.

Ethan Robinson is from 

Osceola, Wis.

His major is undeclared.


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