Book Reviews

Book by Robert Shoenberg
Review by Amy Casaldi
School of Life Sciences
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Arizona State University


Advisors reviewing general studies requirements are commonly asked “why do I need to take that?,” “how will that course help me?.”  In the midst of competitive program applications that focus on major coursework and advisors with large case loads, it is easy to answer a student that a general studies course can expand their horizons, break up their schedule, or just be something they need to graduate.  

In Why do I have to take this course?  A student’s guide to making smart educational choices Robert Shoenberg attempts to demystify the general studies curriculum. This quick read is written for incoming freshmen, transfer students, and current college students. While general studies requirements vary across colleges and universities, the book focuses on the standard curriculum e.g., math, writing, humanities, and the sciences. The rationale behind each course is explained and examples illustrate how courses can help students regardless of major. Shoenberg gets to the root learning outcomes that are developed for an undergraduate curriculum that crosses several majors. The information included in this book will help any student develop a further understanding of the college experience.  

Overall Why do I have to take this course?  A student’s guide to making smart educational choices provides a wealth of information for incoming freshmen and transfer students. The book’s biggest limitation will be getting students to read it. However, the book provides excellent examples that can be used by academic advisors who explain general education and learning outcomes. These examples will help us demonstrate how these courses can help students after college.


Why do I have to take this course? A student guide to making smart educational choices. (2005). Book by Robert Shoenberg. Review by Amy Casaldi. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges and Universities 36 pp. $20.00. ISBN # 978-0-9763576-5-8
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