Agreed, there are many unnecessary classes at the college level. Why the hell do I need to take history, religion, calculus, etc... when I'm going to be a business major? We are indoctrinated from the start to think we need these classes at the college level. It's just a way for the colleges to make more money because it keeps you there longer.
Why do I need to take 12 years of history at the high school level. Nothing changed. Instead they should teach "life skills".
The 3 classes I did learn from at UH was my US military history, interrogation class and by law class. Other than that, I remember little to nothing of all the others I was forced to take.
Even my wife remembers more about the classes because she sat with me in some of them. She was my gf at the time.
It's very simple. If you want just classes to get an education, then you can go for 2-year associate's degree, attend a technical school that could lead to an accreditation or license, or attend classes in a regular college or university without seeking an actual bachelor's degree. The options are out there.
What you and EEF are suggesting is that you should be able to obtain a 4-year degree without completing the required 4 years of classwork.
2 years of the degree are general (liberal arts) courses, and 2 years are in your major/minor (roughly).
The freshman year of college is basically a continuation of high school, to ensure you have the prerequisite knowledge to grasp the more advanced classes. That includes English, algebra, and in some disciplines, calculus. Not all high schools prepare their graduates to the same level as others. It seems redundant to have to take algebra again if you took it in high school, but that's what placement tests are for. If you can't demonstrate algebra skills, then you enroll in the class. Can't get any more objective than that.
Scattered throughout the freshman and sophomore years are classes to expand on your overall education. We laugh at interviews of college students unable to answer basic questions in important areas, so why are we suggesting students not be required to take political science, history or other classes outside of their majors? Isn't the goal to educate, not just produce workers? Hoping these students learn about these things on their own obviously isn't based in reality, given the number of people who believe Socialism works -- just not yet, because .... we'll figure it out.
The requirements are set by national boards that accredit schools and their degree programs. Universities & colleges develop their programs, and they are approved based on, among other things, number of credit hours required to graduate.
Once you have that degree, you then qualify to enroll in a Master's program. Most Master's Degrees only take 2 years if you take a full 12 hour load per semester. So, if you intend to go into law or medical school, you really have no choice -- get the BS/BA first. Otherwise, pick your own curriculum plan. Just don't complain that your choices don't include a diploma or the kind of diploma you wanted.