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Frequently Asked Questions About SCSU's Liberal Education Program

1. What does the term Liberal Education mean?

According to the American Association of Schools and Colleges, a liberal education is: … an approach to learning that empowers individuals and prepares them to deal with complexity, diversity, and change. It provides students with broad knowledge of the wider world (e.g. science, culture, and society) [and] … helps students develop a sense of social responsibility, as well as strong and transferable intellectual and practical skills such as communication, analytical and problem-solving skills, and a demonstrated ability to apply knowledge and skills in real-world settings.

2. Why is my first semester schedule planned for me?

Although it may feel as if the university is exerting unnecessary control over your choices, to ensure you a comprehensive, broad-based education the LEP is designed so that you take initial courses in a certain order because later courses build upon material from earlier ones. Pre-planning ensures you the prerequisites for courses that come later; it assures you a place in required courses before they fill, and it keeps you from wasting valuable time on your way to graduation because you won’t have to backtrack to satisfy requirements you may have overlooked. Because registration is often confusing for freshmen, overlooking such requirements is a real danger; which is why the LEP also includes instruction in registration strategies during the first semester. What you may not know is that you have already had substantial input in the construction of your pre-arranged first-semester schedule. The survey you take upon matriculation is reviewed carefully by Academic Advising, the Office of the Registrar and the First Year Experience office. These three offices work together to design your schedule based upon your interests and goals.

3. Why do I have to complete the Liberal Education Program rather than take courses based upon my interests or that are in my major?

Central to the Liberal Education Program is the belief that educated citizens should be equipped with a breadth of knowledge to use throughout their lives—knowledge that not only stimulates desire for future learning but also makes such learning possible. If college is doing its job, it is graduating individuals with broad-based knowledge including (but not limited to) literacy skills in many areas (verbal, visual, quantitative, technological, etc.), critical thinking and problem solving skills. This deep reservoir of knowledge enables citizens to face challenges and to adapt to many different life situations.

4. If what I really want is a good career, why must I spend time on courses outside of my chosen profession?

The ability to adapt discussed above emerges from a firm educational base. This is essential to any career, as is a depth of general knowledge to help you make choices that are best for you. Additionally, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, people change their jobs about ten times before they are forty. Flexibility, then, is key to your well-being as changes in your life and your career bring new challenges. The ability to adapt to different situations is important for more than just changing your career. In fact, it involves a host of different life choices which, if considered carefully, and from the perspective of an educated person, can lead to overall satisfaction with yourself. The importance of such satisfaction (called self-actualization) reaches well beyond the narrow limits of a good paycheck.

5. Why am I not allowed to take more than two Tier 2 courses from any single field of study?

To achieve the broad base of knowledge so important to a fulfilling life (discussed above), the LEP is designed to acquaint you with many areas of knowledge and fields of study. Such broad exposure will enhance your ability to be successful in your major, because it enables you, once again, to approach problems with a strong underlying reservoir of knowledge to draw from. This is why the LEP is intentionally designed to be interdisciplinary. To ensure that you benefit from this interdisciplinary design, you may not count more than two Tier 2 courses from the same subject area toward your Tier 2 LEP requirement. IMPORTANT NOTE: If you take a 3rd LEP Tier 2 course in the same subject, it will automatically count as a free elective and will not fulfill a Tier 2 requirement even though it is in an Area of Knowledge that you have not yet satisfied. This does not mean that you can’t take the course, it just means that it does not satisfy a Tier 2 requirement.

6. Do I have to finish Tier 1 Before I begin Tier 2?

The Tier 1 Critical Thinking course is a prerequisite for all Tier 2 courses, so you should take it in your first semester. How quickly you complete the rest of Tier 1 will depend on your placement in English and Math. You may take some Tier 2 courses before or at the same time as Tier 1 courses as long as the course doesn’t have Tier 1 prerequisites.

7. How much time do I have to complete my Tier 2 courses?

Technically, you have until you graduate to complete your T2 courses, but it’s best to finish them by the end of your sophomore year so you can concentrate on your major with a more well-rounded educational grounding enabling you to bring a greater depth of knowledge to your selected field of study. Exposure to T2 Areas of Knowledge encourages early exploration of other academic areas, particularly important if you are undeclared or perhaps not entirely sure that you’ve chosen the major that is best for you. Such early exploration could also lead you toward a minor that you may not have not considered but find yourself drawn to. Remember, too, that you must complete seven Tier 2 courses before you can take your Tier 3 capstone course.

Your ability to complete Tier 2 in your sophomore year depends, of course, upon where you have placed in Math and English, and your ability to complete the necessary Tier 1 prerequisites. Some things to keep in mind include the following:

  • Technological Fluency and Quantitative Reasoning should be completed in the 1st semester of your sophomore year.
  • Multilingual Communication should be completed by the end of your junior year.
  • You are required to complete Critical Thinking in your first year.

8. Can a course taken as an LEP requirement also count toward a minor requirement?

Often this is the case, but it is up to the department offering the minor to determine which courses (LEP or otherwise) can count toward a minor.

9. If I think a course I’ve taken at another college should have transferred in as an LEP requirement, but it did not, who can I contact?

Academic Advising works very hard to ensure that your transfer credits are distributed in your best interest and to offer you the best pathway to a timely graduation. Additionally, the Liberal Education Program has a director who is always happy to meet with you to discuss any of your concerns related to the LEP. After you have consulted with your advisor, if you still feel that a particular course or courses should meet requirements in the LEP, contact the program director.

The current Director is Dr. Wesley O’Brien. Email or call for an appointment: obrienw1@southernct.edu; 203-392-5884.

10. Other questions not answered here?

Please don’t hesitate to direct any other questions you might have to the Liberal Education Program Director (see above).