The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

When I first decided to come to UNC, I was excited about the beautiful quads, the friendly atmosphere and the chance to learn from some of the nation’s best professors. What I wasn’t expecting was to have to jump through a series of daunting hoops in hopes of one day graduating.

Don’t get me wrong, I love UNC, and I’m sure I will miss it after 2011. But the advisers in Steele apparently want me to stay here until I’m 30, slowly wading through more unforeseen course requirements like an obstacle course or an expensive goose chase.

I know that academic administrators decided to overhaul things in an effort to make the UNC experience as scholarly as possible, and I appreciate their good intentions.

I completely understand that they want me to know something about “Global Issues.” And “The World Before 1750” seems like an exciting place indeed. But to be fair, aren’t “Global Issues” and “Beyond the North Atlantic” rather the same idea?

The 19 general education requirements listed in my course search engine seem like a mostly repetitive, inevitably confusing, labyrinthine journey through the circles of hell. I’ve so far beaten back the demons of “Historical Analysis,” “Foreign Language” and “Social and Behavioral Science,” but “Quantitative Reasoning” and “Visual and Performing Arts” seem to await eagerly, bludgeons in hand.

And why, might you ask, have I yet to fulfill my quantitative requirements even though I am a second-semester junior? The reason is simple: I despise math. I’ve never liked it — I’m pursuing a degree in English, and I think I’m entitled to feel that these requirements are unnecessary.

Imagine my chagrin freshman year upon realizing that I would be required to take not only one math course, but two, the second one sneakily hidden under the “Connections” heading.

I feel a great sense of loss when looking back at the number of hours I have spent during the past 2.5 years trying to grasp the sadistic interplay of “Connections,” “Approaches” and “Foundations.” I have looked through course books, written class combinations down on note cards, and seemingly have gotten the gist of it, only to begin the journey anew the next semester.

The system simply isn’t intuitive. “Connections,” “Approaches” and “Foundations” are merely jargon that intensify the confusion of course requirements, adding layers to an already bloated design.

It’s bad enough that I still don’t know what “U.S. Diversity” is supposed to mean (Shouldn’t my American literature class count? Apparently not.) without having to figure out how the three-tiered system is possibly supposed to connect to my major.

It really doesn’t help that some courses can count for multiple requirements; it’s frustrating to feel that any kind of efficiency in completing a degree requires a treasure hunt. How am I supposed to concentrate on studying when I’m constantly paranoid that my current classes aren’t the most clever combination?

Administrators might have had good intentions in designing our new three-pronged course system, but as the recent fine arts requirement debacle has shown, the program is just not working.

We need more transparency, less redundancy and respect for wanting to graduate sometime before we hit middle age.


Olivia Blanchard is a junior English major from Atlanta. Contact her at

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.