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Lewis & Clark: Know Before You Go – Gen Ed Requirements

General Education Requirements 

General Education (Gen Ed) requirements are a standard part of the liberal arts college experience. However, not all colleges make their Gen Ed requirements clear on the Admissions tour so it’s a good idea to do your own research. What should you expect and how can you find a college’s Gen Ed requirements? 

Sunset view at the top of the LC reflection garden.

Incoming Freshman – As you enter into college, you may find that more is required of a student than you expected. It’s not that you’re unprepared—colleges tend not to fully explain their requirements on the tour. But don’t worry: requirements are made to help students explore, and they are usually not too difficult to complete if you plan ahead. Take advantage of your time in Gen Ed classes to make friends and find more subjects that you love.

The General Scoop on Gen Ed

All liberal arts colleges have a Gen Ed requirement. These classes are intended to push students to explore areas and fields that they would not necessarily do on their own.  This is a great thing, but a student should know what a school’s Gen Ed requirements are before selecting schools. For most schools you can find the Gen Ed information on their homepages, if you type it into the search bar. There will be a list of required categories and possibly a list of classes that fulfill those categories. If you don’t understand the list, reach out to the school’s admissions and registration office or a current student. If your school does not list the Gen Ed requirements on the homepage, then call the admissions office and ask. 

Don’t worry if you think a requirement will be too difficult to fulfill.  Colleges often provide alternatives to certain requirements. Many colleges will also usually offer summer courses that will fulfil some of the Gen Ed requirements,  and they will usually  accept summer credits from other colleges.

The List for Lewis & Clark

In their first year at Lewis & Clark, students will take the two Exploration and Discovery Classes required by the school. These classes are intended to teach students how to write a research essay. There are a variety of classes with different topics to write about that students can choose from. For example, I know of one class that was focused on horror movies and stories. The topics are varied so that students have a chance to write their essay on a topic that they enjoy. 

There is also a one credit class where a guidance counselor gives advice on how to adjust to college. It’s a good chance to ask any questions one has about college life and to make some friends. 

The Watzek library (Credit: Instagram @lewisandclark).

The other requirements include forgien language, international studies, scientific and quantitative reasoning, creative arts, and PE. They are explained in detail on the Lewis & Clark website. This might sound like a lot to do alongside a major, but students can handle it with a bit of planning. 

One key to success is tackling as many of the Gen Ed classes as one can early on. Many seniors often regret leaving most of their Gen Ed classes for the end of their college career. 

Another thing students should do is plan. There are fun ways to fulfill some of the requirements. For example, a student can fulfill their international studies requirements by going abroad. The best way to plan is to sit down with your advisor once you are a student at Lewis and Clark. 

Students have two places to go for advising. As a student you will have an academic advisor,  but you can also go to the advising center and talk with the staff advisor. The Advising Center is a bit more useful in this area because they have charts to help plan out 4 years. You don’t have to follow any of their plans, but it helps to see your time at college laid out like this.

Lewis and Clark freshman, ready to learn (Credit: Instagram  @ninaleejohnson and @lewisandclarkcollege)..


General education at any school is intended to broaden the students’ view of the world. It may be tempting to search for a school that does not have Gen Ed requirements, but that is a mistake. I have met some of my best friends in required classes. Rather than being stuck in a group of likeminded people that only want to discuss the same major, I am surrounded by people from across academic subjects. 

General Education pushed me to go abroad and see a different point of view. Many people go into college thinking that they know what they want to do. General Education is a student’s opportunity to consider a subject that they may have never come across before. 

Go find your college and explore all there is to learn!