What Is General Studies? [Definition, Benefits & Importance]

Wondering what general studies is and why it is important? This article answers these questions and so much more.

General Studies is a broad curriculum meant to help aspirants sharpen their general knowledge, communication skills, and people skills. These courses and the exam are your gateways to many institutions of higher learning in most countries.

Initially, general studies may seem confusing, but you’ll find they offer a lot of benefits. Many universities emphasize the overall improvement of students’ abilities by making sure that they have a firm grasp of how to do well in various subject areas. 

This article gives a better idea of what general studies entails, its benefits, importance, and also includes the subjects it focuses on.

What Is General Studies?

General studies is a broad subject that includes the study of many subjects, including the social sciences and humanities. Most countries teach it as a high school subject focused on knowledge.

In secondary education, it refers to a variety of interdisciplinary courses. Additionally, it often appears in the context of British post-compulsory education as the former A-level examination and GCSE.

The course is knowledge-orientated and aims to broaden thinking and increase curiosity. That makes it suitable for students who want to find out more about the world around them and those preparing for exams such as GCSEs.

Additionally, general studies is typically part of a core curriculum that all high school students must complete before graduating. Courses in general education can include but are not limited to, literature, psychology, history, economics, math, and science. 

They are often a requirement for a bachelor’s degree education. Also, this school subject covers a wide range of multi-disciplinary topics such as; 

  • Politics and the economy
  • Science and technology
  • Arts and culture
  • Society and ethics 

What Are the Subjects That Makeup General Studies?

There are many components of general studies, but most of them include social sciences, law, finance, the humanities, and other multidisciplinary subjects. 

It also combines methods and concepts from many different fields, like sociology, health sciences, geography, history, and so on.

These subjects include a range of courses that teach students about the “big picture” of knowledge and how different disciplines are connected. Unlike traditional disciplines, general studies focus less on highly specific or technical knowledge and more on teaching students about the world as a whole.

General studies is distinguished from professional/technical education in that it emphasizes broad knowledge and skills whereas technical/professional programs emphasize depth in a specific area.

The subjects that make up general studies are as follows:

  • Arts and Culture: This consists of subjects like painting, culture, religion, history, media, language, etc.
  • Politics and the Economy: This consists of subjects like politics, economics, business administration, accounting, etc.
  • Society and Ethics: This consists of subjects like religions, law, government, international relations, philosophy, etc
  • Science and Technology: This consists of subjects like physics, chemistry, maths, robotics, computer science, etc.

What Are the Benefits of General Studies?

By studying general studies, you will broaden your knowledge and increase your understanding. The benefits of general studies can also include the contribution to the development of well-rounded students and enhanced student retention.

By eliminating the focus on one specific area, general studies programs offer several advantages that can help students with both their professional and personal lives.

Unique to each institution and with varying topics, general studies allow you to explore areas of study that catch your interest. 

Also, some universities require students taking a particular course to take core modules. A business degree, for example, may require you to study business law, economics, and mathematics. 

Below are some basic benefits of learning general studies.

1. It Increases Your Knowledge of the World

General studies encompass a wide variety of subjects under one umbrella, rather than specializing in one subject. Expanding your learning across multiple topics can be great for anyone looking to boost their employability. 

It also develops the knowledge of those who are simply keen to learn more about the world around them. Each general education course will equip you with valuable life skills, like communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving in various settings.

Additionally, you will become proficient in speaking, reading, and writing for practical, day-to-day situations as well as more complex, academic activities.

2. General Studies Help You Develop Various Skills

General education helps you develop various skills applicable to many situations, such as writing and critical thinking. You will also have access to cutting-edge learning techniques that will help to improve your study skills.

It focuses on enhancing the individual’s overall personality. These help you develop various skills and attitudes requiring cognitive and affective resources.

It also delivers all-around development in terms of knowledge, awareness, and relevant skills in all career fields. It includes critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, and understanding the history of culture, art, and science. 

In addition, you’ll learn to integrate that knowledge across different disciplines, apply it to everyday life situations, and communicate your ideas through an understanding of rhetoric.

3. General Studies Builds a Positive Attitude toward Life in General

General Studies builds a positive attitude toward life in general, a sympathetic understanding and respect for others, and an appreciation of the world around you.

This encourages students to develop broad-based knowledge and understanding. It also encourages students to make informed choices about their future paths.

Also, it helps students develop an informed, critical and rational perspective on issues of environmental concern, human welfare, and social justice.

SEE: What Critical Thinking Skills Are

4. Helps to Pursue Further Studies

General education plays a vital role in your education and it creates awareness of various academic disciplines. Taking these courses also improves your chances of pursuing further education and getting a good job in the future.

Being well versed in varied subjects develops a sense of confidence, creativity, and a broad outlook. Should you wish to pursue further studies, it helps in choosing the right specialization. Also, in some countries, it is a pre-requisite for graduate studies.

5. You Can Get Easier Entry into Some University Majors

General education classes consist of a variety of subjects decided by each school and are an important aspect of nearly all college degrees. They are often required before you can begin to take upper-level classes in your degree program.

If a specific major or career interests you, check out the class requirements for that topic and see what general ed courses could be taken as electives to help you gain some background knowledge.

Typically, these programs may require students to take courses in English, mathematics, history and social science, humanities, and physical and biological sciences.

SEE: The Ultimate List of Biology Careers

6. Provides Flexibility in Career Choices

Often, any job can have multiple paths to success and some paths require specific education and training. These studies provide you with the critical thinking and reasoning skills needed to reach your goals.

Do not limit your studies to one field. The beauty of this degree is the flexibility it offers in career choices. More than just a means to graduation, a general studies degree helps you take the next step in your career. 

Whether you’re looking to finish your bachelor’s degree or advance in your current profession, have the flexibility to choose what interests you.

SEE: Skills That Can Change Your Life Forever

7. Gives You Familiarity with Other Areas of Learning

A general education gives you familiarity with other areas of learning, which helps you understand complex issues, create innovative solutions, and become a more well-rounded person.

These studies give you familiarity with other areas of learning – topics that add depth and breadth to your knowledge. It also strengthens your ability to think creatively and critically. That often leads to employment opportunities in industries that are at the intersection of two or more disciplines.

Job-wise, a general studies major prepares you for jobs that require broad knowledge in several subject areas. A general education major can also prepare you to work effectively with people of diverse backgrounds.

SEE: The Benefits of Workplace Diversity

8. Employability: General Studies Are a Great Foundation for Multiple Specializations

You don’t just get specialized exploration in a limited field, you also get a general knowledge of many related industries. Basically, you will have a much easier time finding a job if you have that advantage!

You could, for example, use general education as a springboard to further pursue psychology or public relations. Depending on your specific requirements, you may incorporate general education and humanities coursework into your future degree plan.

SEE: What Employability Skills Are: Important Skills For Job Seekers

9. Empowers You to Face Any Situation You Come Across in Life

It doesn’t matter whether the course is in international relations or acting at a community college, general education teaches you to think critically and opens your mind.

A good general education leads students towards higher studies as it provides a solid foundation for additional challenges. This helps you develop the skills necessary for success in the job market. 

SEE: 10 High-Income Skills That Can Change Your Life Forever

10. Helps You Develop Yourself as an Individual

Whether you study the ancient past or new innovations, general studies help you develop yourself as an individual. It also strengthens your connections with the environment and prepares you for a fulfilling career.

This can be especially interesting if you’re undecided about your future career path. They also help you improve a wide variety of skills, such as communication and creativity.

Why Are General Studies Important?

The main purpose is to incorporate all aspects of knowledge, discipline, and intellect into an integrated learning experience rather than separate them into narrowband focuses.

Also, they provide knowledge-oriented school subjects that address the purposes of primary and high school education. It is an all-encompassing curriculum designed to educate students about the world around them and develop a broad base of skills.

General education curricula provide the knowledge and skills that all people need to succeed in their careers and to become lifelong learners. In many developed countries, general studies serve as a foundation subject in higher education.

Developmental psychologists and educationalists alike are all advocating for wider knowledge, not just in one area, but multiple areas of interest. That’s why general studies are important for today’s students.

Additionally, it includes self-discipline that gives students an overall impression of the main areas of science and the humanities.

What Are Some Challenges Affecting General Studies?

Teaching general studies can be challenging for teachers who lack the knowledge and experience. That is because teachers must have the ability to pass on their knowledge efficiently and effectively.

Every student will encounter challenges when they enter any academic setting. General studies teachers need to be aware of the stressful topics and conditions that students encounter and prepare well to help guide them through.

Furthermore, several social and emotional factors arise from teaching certain topics like; religion, history, and culture. Teachers need to teach these topics and conditions in such a manner that students are open-minded and curious.

Additionally, students should be encouraged to ask themselves why these challenges occur in their environment.

FAQs

Is general studies worth it?

Yes, general studies are worth the effort of learning. The value of this course means something slightly different to everyone. For the aspiring politician, it may be about rhetoric and communications courses. While art, culture, and history classes might appeal to an aspiring philosopher.

What college degrees can you achieve with general studies?

English, history, and religion are common options for general studies majors with concentrations like cultural anthropology or music history.

In this type of program, you can choose the classes and areas of study that interest you. Many colleges and community colleges offer general studies programs at all levels.

What jobs can you do with a general studies degree?

For example, you can become a financial analyst, market research analyst, or account manager. An undergraduate degree in general studies will prepare you for many careers!

Conclusion

The general studies program has been in many schools for a long time and it is used as a platform to help students identify their career paths.  

Additionally, it helps you gain skills and knowledge that can be useful in the future. It focuses on improving the students’ communication, presentation skills, social skills, writing, and other skills that help you in your career even after graduation.

Finally, general studies aim to address gaps in education by giving students an essential foundation to be successful in any environment. This is similar to developing life skills. Learn more about what life skills are and why they are important.

I hope you found this article helpful. Thanks for reading.