Navigating General Education
Liberal arts. Ask anyone what a liberal arts education entails and you’re likely to get a wide range of responses. "Liberal" doesn't refer to a political leaning, but rather to the breadth of experiences that this type of education embraces. A "liberal education" is broad and interdisciplinary, one that emphasizes connections and ties together diverse areas of study.
A broad degree. In this age of increasing technology, with the rapid pace of knowledge acquisition, a broad-based degree may seem a little out of date. After all, wouldn't it be more effective to have a technical degree with as many classes in the major as possible, so that potential employers or graduate schools would be able to see what you know? It turns out this is not the case for many career areas. The webpage “The Value of a Liberal Arts Education in the Career Planning Process” addresses that exact question.
Three academic divisions. The academic structure at Alma College is organized around three academic divisions: the arts and humanities, the natural sciences and the social sciences. Each department of the college, with its courses and faculty, are located in one of these divisions. Although you will select a “major” area of concentration within a department, your education will be much broader than this (see “Field of Study” pages).
DRs within each division. At Alma, you are required to complete a wide range of classes outside your major. These are referred to as the Distributive Requirements (DRs). While every institution of higher education has general education requirements, it is at the liberal arts schools like Alma where these requirements for breadth are most emphasized. The DRs are classified by academic division, and you’ll need to complete 12 credits within each division.
How the DR system was established. You should know that the DR system is not random, but was extensively debated and approved by the Faculty of the College. See the link to the rationale for the DR system below. It's a system with a great deal of thought behind it.
Please examine your catalog for the DRs that apply to your entering year!