Academic News

CUNY Students’ FAQs Regarding the Proposed Common Core

November 1, 2011

Students’ Frequently Asked Questions Concerning
the Proposed Common Core for General Education at CUNY

Why does CUNY need a Common Core?

  • The CUNY colleges differ in their general education requirements, which means transfer students are often required to fulfill new requirements. This makes it hard for students to graduate on time and within the usual credit limit.
  • CUNY is a single university and students should be allowed to move within the system. At every senior college over 50% of the graduates entered that college as a transfer student. 

What is included in the draft Common Core structure?

  • The Pathways Task Force has recommended a draft structure for the 30-credit Common Core. It includes requirements in English Composition, Mathematical and Quantitative Reasoning, and Science. The Core also includes 15 credits in thematic areas, including: World Cultures, U.S. Experience in its Diversity, Creative Expression, and Individual and Society.
  • Colleges will have much flexibility in choosing courses for the different areas of the Common Core and students will have flexibility as well. Many existing general education courses are likely to fit within the new structure.
  • Not included in the Common Core are the additional 12 credits of General Education that each senior college will offer (the College Option), for a total at those colleges of 42 credits of General Education, consistent with national norms.

What about foreign language requirements?

  • Any college may require a foreign language course as part of the Common Core and senior colleges may require additional language courses as part of their College Option (see above).
  • Students are free to pursue further study of foreign languages through a major, minor, or elective credit.

What about writing requirements?

  • The draft Common Core includes a full 7 credits of English Composition. In addition, colleges may require students to complete “Writing Intensive” courses.

Will quality be reduced as a result of the Common Core?

  • No. Areas of the Common Core will be defined by learning outcomes, ensuring that each course is rigorous. Every Common Core course will require students to use high-level critical thinking skills and to produce well-reasoned written or oral arguments.
  • A faculty committee will review courses submitted for the Common Core to ensure high standards.

How will the Common Core benefit students?

  • Students will be guaranteed that Common Core credits will transfer if they move to another CUNY college and that they will not face additional general education requirements in areas they have already completed. This will save them time and money.
  • Learning outcomes will help students chart their progress and achieve at high levels.
  • The reduced size of general education at most senior colleges should increase electives – and freedom of choice – for students.

How can my voice be heard?