Students at the University of Georgia must accumulate 120 credit hours of course credit and complete specific requirements before they are eligible for graduation.
On top of general and major-related courses, UGA requires one basic physical education (PEDB) class. The UGA University-wide requirements page says these classes may or may not be counted in the total 120 required hours, depending on decisions from “individual schools and colleges”. Upon a closer look in UGA’s DegreeWorks course tracker, the one PEDB credit hour “does not count in the total number of hours required” to graduate.
If UGA requires that we spend our time and money on a PEDB class, it should count for the total 120 credits required for graduation.
To begin with, there is the cost. I know I’m not the only one who has struggled to pay for college, books and associated fees. The prices increase with each added class, and it can get expensive quickly.
The same fees apply to physical education classes. Students must supply any athletic clothing or equipment they need and pay any club fees that are specific to the PEDB course students have chosen. If a student wants to take a class online due to a disability, scheduling, insecurities, or any other reason, there is an additional $200 cost to get the required heart monitoring equipment. Despite this investment, UGA offers no reward or incentive different from the rest of PEDB course students.
Money is hardly the only investment demanded by these mandatory courses. Just like other classes, most PEDB classes meet on Mondays and Wednesdays, or Tuesdays and Thursdays for 50 minutes or an hour and 15 minutes, respectively. These meeting times can easily be found on the UGA Athena webpage. If students are putting the same amount of time and energy into PEDB classes — if not more — as we do in general or major-related education classes, why are they treated as less than in the hierarchy of degree requirements?
These classes do their intended job to help build life-long health knowledge, but they also allow students to develop social habits and relationships. Dr. Janet Buckworth, head of the UGA kinesiology department, shared that many of her students are glad to “get out to meet people and make some social connections,” which contributes positively both to mental and physical health. Making connections inside the classroom allows students to have activity partners who share the same interests.
Moving from high school to college and balancing your classes and social life, including making time for physical and outdoor activity, can be difficult. Dr. Ilse Mason, the basic PE program coordinator, said that her students voice their desire to strike that balance. “That is something that they intend to do,” she shared with me, but they often do not have time to make it work. The structure of the PEDB classes helps them start making schedules that ensure time spent for physical activity.
The benefits of PEDB courses should not come as a surprise to the university: the Internal Resources page of the Mary Frances Early College of Education states that the goal of implementing PEDB classes is to “promote lifelong physical activity and fitness for the enhancement of health and well-being”. By and large, these classes succeed at this mission, as the overall benefits of PEDB classes are undeniable.
They offer a healthy way to relieve stress, show students how to implement physical activity into their daily lives, teach students new physical health knowledge as well as add a social element for students to connect. With all that said, if UGA administrators recognize the positive impacts that PEDB classes have on students’ lives — which they do — then UGA should value the time and monetary contributions that we put into these classes.
Paying for classes that do not count in the total number of hours we need to graduate is not fair. Spending time in a class, studying, and being quizzed on content that does not count in the total number of hours we need to graduate is not fair. Adding extra hoops to pass for those who take the classes virtually is not fair.
UGA administrators: please respect our time and money and take your mission seriously, and make PEDB classes count.