Staff Editorial: Specialization is key

At a job interview, when your prospective employer asks about your undergraduate degree, you can answer “The George Washington University” with some confidence that your interviewer will know the level of prestige this carries. This stature is part of the reason we came to GW, along with the quality of our classes and the specialized programs.

Three states are currently launching pilot programs aimed at standardizing degree programs across each state. This initiative in Indiana, Minnesota and Utah is following in the footsteps of the European Bologna Process, which is seeking to homogenize education in universities across Europe. Eighteen Latin American countries have also begun a similar enterprise.

The key point here is not to make each school require the same exact classes, but rather to produce graduates schooled in the same skill sets. A degree earned in Spain would be easier to utilize in England if employers and graduate programs were confident of the content of that original degree – the same goes for a California graduate relocating to Chicago.

However, this educational-communism mentality is more idealistic than anything else. If this type of program were to become a national phenomenon, not only would educational freedom suffer, as The Harvard Crimson pointed out in a recent editorial, but so would the specialized programs that currently set schools apart.

GW is rightfully proud of our above-average international affairs program and the opportunities that students in the Elliott School of International Affairs have should not be curtailed by national – or international – requirements. Standardization would make paperwork easier, but it would not allow for the vital flexibility to really utilize the unique resources institutions have to offer. If GW political science students were not able to take advantage of our location because of nationwide competency requirements, half of GW’s appeal would be gone.

Yes, our world is more connected now than at any point in history, but that does not mean that we all need to be educated the same exact way. On the contrary, specialization is the best approach to job security. The Bologna Process has not yet made its way to GW, but it is best to nip this idea in the bud. When and if this becomes a question, GW must stand its ground and not give up what makes our University unique.

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