We’ve all looked at our graduation requirements and groaned at the number of credits we’re expected to have for classes that seem to be completely irrelevant to our majors. Personally, as a pre-med student, I’ve heard my peers in higher-leveled STEM classes constantly complain about the hassle of having to complete humanities and language and writing requirements when they seemingly have no interest in them and see no purpose in completing. Although these requirements seem to be vexatious, they truly do have immense value that isn’t always conveyed effectively by our higher educational institutions. In fact, several sources will tell you that a liberal arts education or one where you need to take courses outside of STEM curriculum, are highly valued.
1.You may ignite new interests.
Universities provide their students with a great breadth and variety of classes ranging from orchestra to photography to a class solely dedicated to aliens. You may go in thinking that you’re taking that course simply to complete your graduation requirements, but you might actually end up enjoying that class a lot more than you expected to.
I experienced this when I took an introductory German class. I went in thinking that I would complete the required amount of language credits and that’s it. Well, here I am now, an excited German minor hoping to receive the opportunity to study abroad in Germany sometime during my academic career! I never would have realized my avid interest for German if it weren’t for the language requirements.
I’ve met a plethora of people who simply want to complete the requirements with easy A classes, but imagine how much more enjoyable and fulfilling these classes would be if they were chosen out of pure interest and curiosity instead of just as a GPA booster. Taking these courses with an open and engaging mind might lead you to an untouched and lively interest.
2. You will Immerse Yourself in a New Environment
By immersing yourself in a new and diverse environment, you’re exposed to people who have completely different backgrounds, majors, and interests from those you’re used to surrounding yourself with. You’ll be forced to step out of your comfort bubble that you might have become too accustomed to as you were taking classes just for your major. I’m a firm believer that there’s always something you can learn from the people you meet. Through taking classes outside your major, you’re creating the perfect opportunity to not only gain knowledge on the topic of the course, but also to learn fresh ways of thinking and perspectives from your peers. This is a lot easier to see when you’re not surrounded by people with the same goals and mindsets as you.
3. You will become more well-rounded
Many people argue against having to take classes unrelated to your major because taking those classes won’t help them get a job in the future. But is that the sole purpose of education? To get a well-paying job in the future? I strongly disagree with that notion because the purpose of a liberal arts education isn’t to become mere productive clogs in the system, but rather to grow as individuals and go about our lives with meaning, purpose, and thought. By taking classes outside our majors, we can expand our minds to new ideas that we might have not been exposed to before.
Tim Fuller, a professor at Colorado College, emphasizes this mindset in the foreword to Michael Oakeshott’s The Voice of Liberal Learning, “At some point in the educational venture, students need an interval in which they are neither simply learning school lessons nor looking to their future careers. In this interval is to be found the full flowering of liberal learning, the blossoming of human life.”