Actually I like your comparison, and I believe STEM majors should indeed not be required to take English classes at all. In my opinion, the time for general education is primary and to some extent secondary school. University is the time for specialization in one's own subject. I would remove all general education requirements from universities.

When it comes to physics, for example, even in secondary school the few students who are going to major in physics should begin in the appropriate track when they enter high school. They should take mostly math and science. There is so much to learn in one's own field. I was a physics major, and I found all the general educational courses to be an unnecessary burden. I studied English, history, psychology, and so on, throughout my pre-university years. That was more than enough. In retrospect, it would have been a much better use of my time to take more mathematics and science courses before university, instead of yet another English literature course.

I am speaking of four year universities, where one is studying for a bachelor's degree. If we eliminate general education, and STEM students have already studied what is now studied in the first year of university, we could shorten the time for a bachelor's degree to three years. That's much more efficient in my opinion.

Of course I realize community colleges play a different role. For example, they offer remedial and adult education, as well as vocational education.

College and university students will learn the General Education courses better than when they were younger students. What should be limited is the EXCESSIVE quantities of such courses required of science & engineering students.

I recently transfered to a 4yr university. I was forced to come to the school I am currently attending, due to economic factors and family obligations. When I arrived to my school, some of my math classes were considered upper division. Ie, Discrete mathematics was broken up into 2 semesters, and the second semester was needed to start classes such as: real analysis, abstract algebra, number theory, graph theory,etc. My registration appointment was 2 weeks before the semester started, so I needed to add 1 upper division general eds. Needless to say, one of the general ed courses required 300 pages of reading and essays weekly. I had to take an F in the course, so my scholarship/financial aid would not be affected. It was either take an F in this class, or get Cs across the board. Mind you, I am taking discrete math, upper division mechanics, intro biology. I read and studied more for that elective class, then I did my stem courses. I even had an A, before I told the professor to give me an F. I later added a graph theory course (discrete teacher teaches this class) to actually finish my math degree in 2 years. Let's just say, that the time I wasted reading for the elective was better used in learning graph theory...

The Math Pathways initiative in Texas seeks to provide alternatives to the traditional algebra class. http://dcmathpathways.org/.

The traditional college algebra class was created as a preparatory class to get students ready for calculus. But in practice it's used that way for a very small fraction of the students who take it.

I think that when students successfully complete courses like algebra it changes the way they think. And loosing that is a detriment to our society, but it's happening and this Math Pathways project is one way to deal with that reality.