Cal State increases general education requirements for first-time freshmen and transfers

Transfer students at California State University now face new general education requirements that will also impact incoming first-time freshmen.

Despite objections from faculty and students over potential loss of lifelong learning opportunities, the Cal State trustees voted to adopt a unified and streamlined approach to general education for all students.

This decision alters the previous “CSU GE Breadth” program, reducing required general education credits from 39 to 34 by removing certain humanities and arts courses and incorporating a laboratory class, while retaining flexibility for students to choose elective courses.

The revised curriculum, labeled Cal-GETC or the California General Education Transfer Curriculum, was initially introduced in May 2022 to enhance the transfer process for community college students entering the UC and CSU systems. Developed collaboratively, it will take effect in fall 2025.

While designed mainly for community college transfers, the new pathway will now be enforced for first-time freshmen joining Cal State.

Approximately 60% of first-year Cal State applicants possess transfer credits, including those obtained from high school dual enrollment courses, highlighting the importance of aligning general education for all students.

April Grommo, CSU’s vice chancellor for enrollment management, emphasized the need for equitable degree requirements to avoid discrepancies among undergraduates.

Concerns over equity prompted the decision-makers to implement a standardized general education system, regardless of the students’ entry point into Cal State.

While the faculty generally supports the new system for transfer students, applying it to freshmen has sparked opposition. Beth Steffel, chair of CSU’s academic senate, expressed concerns about potential consequences of omitting certain courses from the general education requirements.

One argument against the revised approach is the risk of losing valuable courses that promote social learning and critical skills for incoming freshmen.

Furthermore, some faculty members view the alignment of Cal-GETC with the UC system as a potential drawback due to differing missions and student populations.

The inclusion of unique requirements in Cal-GETC, such as ethnic studies and oral communication, signifies an attempt to cater to both UC and CSU students.

Although students question the decision-making process, trustees stand firm on implementing a single system for general education to ensure consistency and clarity for all Cal State students.

Amidst concerns, the university officials stress the importance of shared governance and collaboration with faculty and students to enhance student success and eliminate unnecessary barriers.

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