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Colleges with Soft Distribution Requirements

naramsinnaramsin 1 replies1 threads New Member
Hi all,

Suppose you've got a kid who knows what he's good at, knows what he's not, and doesn't want to spend a lot of time mucking about with the latter. Can we put together a list of colleges that do have general education requirements, but these are easily satisfied?

By this, I don't mean open curriculum or near-open curriculum schools. Such a list can be found here: https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/college-search-selection/2014605-list-of-schools-with-little-to-no-core-curriculum-or-have-great-flexibility-with-double-majors.html It is pretty short. Let's have some alternatives.

I've got two thoughts for criteria for colleges that might make the list. First, they might require "mode of thought" courses instead of classes in the traditional divisions of arts, humanities, social sciences, and life and physical sciences. So the school might require "quantitative reasoning," and the student could take econ or poli sci, as well as math.

Second, a distribution requirement could be satisfied in one semester instead of year- (or years-) long courses.

I wonder if Bates might be a good example.

Any other suggestions?
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Replies to: Colleges with Soft Distribution Requirements

  • Mwfan1921Mwfan1921 3295 replies62 threads Senior Member
    edited January 22
    Bates' gen eds do seem to have many options to fulfill each, but there still seem to be quite a few....5 in modes of inquiry, 3 writing courses and one concentration of 4 courses. That's 12 out of the 34 credits (32 semester plus 2 short term), which seems high (not sure if any overlap is allowed).

    In that same vein, Bowdoin has similarly broad distribution requirements and class offerings, with 1 writing class, 5 distribution areas and 3 division areas....but there can be overlap between the distribution and division classes if one chooses wisely. So that's a max of 9 of 32 credits.

    You will probably find many LACs with a similar number of requirements and breadth of offerings.....some like the ones listed in the previous thread you linked to may have even fewer.

    Another school that doesn't get mentioned in these discussions is Wake Forest, which does have an Open Curriculum option but it's application only....not sure how many students do that.
    edited January 22
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  • milgymfammilgymfam 1173 replies20 threads Senior Member
    Haverford seems to fit. My D isn’t a math kid and she filled the same requirement that math meets with a linguistics class. There seem to be a lot of ways to meet the distribution requirements there.
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  • LindagafLindagaf 9873 replies536 threads Senior Member
    edited January 22
    Haha! I was literally just going to say Bates. D is a senior there. She always says Bates has no requirements, which isn’t strictly true. She’s had no trouble finding many different options to satisfy requirements.
    edited January 22
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 80134 replies720 threads Senior Member
    edited January 22
    Perhaps another way to look at it is to consider which subjects the student will have the greatest difficulty fulfilling (due to disinterest or whatever), and avoid colleges where those requirements are the heaviest or most difficult.
    edited January 22
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  • happy1happy1 23324 replies2309 threads Senior Member
    edited January 22
    My D went to Lafayette and the school had very flexible distribution requirements. Over her four years there I think she only took a few classes that she otherwise wouldn't have chosen- she enjoyed most of them and as it turned out two of those classes were required for her grad school program.
    edited January 22
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  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff 5411 replies24 threads Senior Member
    I might not be understanding but with a daughter at Beloit, they seemed to be able to make a curriculum that was good for her. Changed math for something else. Used her extensive intensive language program through the state department language program for her language requirement. All her classes are deep discussion classes that she loves and most tests are very extensive, intensive papers on the subject. She told she thought she would never miss taking typical tests.. Lol.

    She came in as a junior. I don't think this is dumbing down anything. I just think it is making it more interesting taking classes that have meaning to the student. Yes, there are requirements for her major /minor but options to take classes around that to meet the other said requirements. It's been a absolutely great experience for her and many we know that went there.
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  • shuttlebusshuttlebus 502 replies1 threads Member
    naramsin wrote: »
    Hi all,

    Suppose you've got a kid who knows what he's good at, knows what he's not, and doesn't want to spend a lot of time mucking about with the latter. Can we put together a list of colleges that do have general education requirements, but these are easily satisfied?
    Williams College fits your criteria.
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  • gwnorthgwnorth 412 replies8 threads Member
    University of Toronto

    The Breadth Requirement can be completed in one of two ways: (a) at least 1.0 FCE in each of 4 of the 5 categories below, or (b) at least 1.0 FCE in each of any 3 of the 5 categories, and at least 0.5 FCE in each of the other 2 categories.

    1 Creative and Cultural Representations
    2. Thought, Belief, and Behaviour
    3. Society and Its Institutions
    4. Living Things and Their Environment
    5. The Physical and Mathematical Universes

    https://fas.calendar.utoronto.ca/hbahbsc-requirements
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  • tdy123tdy123 1035 replies18 threads Senior Member
    Definitely wouldn't like Yale, which has skills based and area based distribution requirements.

    Area requirements: 2 humanities and arts + 2 Science + 2 Social Science

    Skills requirements: 2 Writing + 2 Quantitative reasoning + 1 ( to as many as 3 depending on placement) Foreign Language.
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  • Clementine7624Clementine7624 147 replies25 threads Junior Member
    NYU Gallatin School
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  • wis75wis75 14269 replies64 threads Senior Member
    I would think of distribution requirements meaning a well rounded education. Large U's will offer many courses to choose to meet those nasty humanities/social sciences/science requirements. The horrors of knowing something mathematical.

    How about "Physics for Poets" at UW- contains real physics but for the non science major. Tons of ways to become educated with neeeding to resort to fancy "mode of thought" descriptions. Most schools teach thinking, not just learning facts (even in STEM). Be wary of small schools that can't offer much variety.
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  • awesomepolyglotawesomepolyglot 3876 replies69 threads Senior Member
    Rice--3 classes each in humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, with one required writing class.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 8714 replies82 threads Senior Member
    Many of the state flagships accept AP courses for gen eds. My D only had one communications course and one upper level humanities to take. Opened room in her schedule to take what she enjoys.
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  • mathmommathmom 32768 replies160 threads Senior Member
    Carnegie Mellon had distribution requirements, but my kid got out of almost all of them thanks to high AP scores. Except for the required writing course, and one world history course I think everything he took was math, physics or CS.

    Vassar has a quantitative reasoning and foreign language requirement, but nothing else.
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  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk 2626 replies5 threads Senior Member
    When I was researching the AP credits on another thread, I noticed that Cornell in their Arts and Science school has a new curriculum that sounds similar to the mode of thought descriptions. There are ten distribution requirements and you only need one course per requirement.
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  • shawbridgeshawbridge 5800 replies53 threads Senior Member
    I'm a little out of date, but ShawSon is both gifted and dyslexic and we were looking for schools with very flexible distribution requirements. Schools on our list: Amherst, Williams, Brown, Wesleyan, Dartmouth (easy but required a language), Sarah Lawrence, Vassar, Rochester. Other lists say UMass Amherst, to which he applied, but I don't recall that meeting this criterion. Harvard changes over the years, but it has had requirements that could be met with easy courses (e.g., Celtic poetry, which was a haven for math majors).

    I would have put Hampshire College on the list, but RIP. New College in Florida may be a close relative, still surviving.
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  • naramsinnaramsin 1 replies1 threads New Member
    Can someone who is familiar with Williams shed some light on satisfying its distribution requirements?
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  • TheGreyKingTheGreyKing 2226 replies104 threadsForum Champion Williams College Forum Champion
    edited January 25
    Amherst, Brown, Grinnell, Hamilton.

    Vassar, U of Rochester.

    You asked about Williams. At Williams, these are the requirements:

    1. Three courses in each division, in at least two departments per division:
    Division 1: arts and languages
    Division 2: social sciences
    Division 3: math and sciences

    2. Two writing-intensive courses

    3. One course that addresses “difference, power and equity”

    4. One quantitative/ formal reasoning course

    The same course could be used to meet more than one requirement— e.g. a particular English course could meet Div I and writing intensive, a math course could meet Div III and quantitative, a history course could meet Div II and difference/power/equity.

    But if a course can be used for either Div I or Div II (e.g., you could find a course about Russian history that you could take either under the Russian department which is Div I or the History department which is Div II), you have to choose under which department to take it; you can’t count it for both divisional requirements.
    edited January 25
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  • dadof4kidsdadof4kids 766 replies76 threads Member
    I’ve been hunting this info for a while. I finally just started going through schools requirements on their websites.

    D21 is probably pre med. What I am finding is that for her a lot of the schools like Bates, Williams, Bowdoin, etc. don’t end up having that many extra classes than a Hamilton or Amherst. Others like Tufts and Connecticut College are tougher.

    Part of that is due to pre med requirements, so ymmv. I suspect it may be a slightly different list for different kids, although I do think there is good value in compiling this. I would then use it as a base and double check that for your kids it still works.

    Overall I was surprised how many schools still worked so well for her even though they had several requirements. Which is good, but that was her main screening tool so I’m back to 50 schools on the list again.
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  • planitplanit 180 replies3 threads Junior Member
    Georgia Tech. If you have a decent array of APs, you can get by with taking very few gen ed courses.
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