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Washington State University
UCORE: University Common Requirements Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement

Working with advisees

Robert Shoenberg, author of Why Do I Have to Take This Course? (2005), argues that general education requirements are not “hurdles to jump over or courses to be gotten out of the way, but rather the educational journey of a lifetime, the base on which to build a life as well as earn a living.”

But students may not know or fully understand this when they arrive at WSU. Hence, the responsibility falls on us — university leadership, faculty, advisors, and staff — to motivate them to embrace the educational journey of which UCORE is a central component.

In addition to the personal enrichment and fulfillment that comes from a college education, the need to prepare students for their future careers continues to require that they become clear communicators; collaborative problem solvers; and professional, ethical, and informed decision-makers. This is the purpose of UCORE.

Additional Advising Resources

At-a-glance info for most questions regarding UCORE:

Communicating the Value of UCORE To Students

UCORE’s value is not often immediately obvious to students. Advisors are critical in moving students away from thinking about UCORE (or really any graduation requirement) as simply a box to check and instead toward thinking of UCORE as an experience to embrace for the purposes of exploration, intellectual growth, and the acquisition and development of broadly-applicable skills.

As the American Association of Colleges & Universities reports about the value of such “power” skills, employers frequently cite adaptability, innovation, and broad engagement with the world as more important than one’s chosen major.

Conveying this message to students requires elucidation and resolve. It is a given that advisors will need to assist students with the mechanics of navigating the UCORE curriculum with reference to graduation requirements. The challenge is helping them to comprehend the intended spirit of the requirements.

Strategies for Advising Students Effectively

  • Communicate the post-graduation return on investment. Technological priorities and modes of operation change constantly. Employers want adaptable and creative thinkers, not narrow ones. Encourage students to begin thinking about marketing themselves with WSU’s undergraduate learning outcomes in mind.
  • Prioritize student interest and discovery over scheduling convenience. Discuss with students their interests and goals. What are they curious about? What social, philosophical, scientific, or technological issues do they care about? Are there particular skills they wish to develop further that are not tied to any particular major? Help them build a UCORE plan with these answers at the center.
  • Empower students to take ownership over their learning. UCORE offers a scaffolded set of skills and areas of knowledge. It is in large part up to students to chart courses that help them reach their intellectual goals. But they have to know that that is possible.