We’ve all been there. You’re sitting in front of your computer screen trying to decide between two general education classes for next semester. One is disgustingly boring, but it will be an easy A. The other is super interesting, but it’s going to take effort and it’s at 8:30 a.m. It’s an impossible choice! As annoying as they are, gen eds are actually really important, and you should do your best to pick ones that are interesting and challenging.
Here is a list of classes that have nothing to do with my major, but I have enjoyed so much: Astronomy: stars and galaxies, murderous women, applied behavioral analysis, Psychology: cognitive psychology, Sociology: intro to sociology, journalism, Safe Zone, applied statistics, Anthropology: intro to anthropology, Music: basic musicianship, and a whole bunch of Spanish classes. My major is English with adolescent education, and I don’t have a minor. None of those classes counted toward my major! Some of them I took as gen eds and others I just took for fun. Why the heck would I take classes that I don’t need? Why would I take gen ed classes that I knew would be harder than others?
The answer is that those classes have taught me things that I never would have learned in my regular classes. Furthermore, I’ve been able to take the things I learned in seemingly useless classes and connect it to my major classes! I use applied behavioral analysis and cognitive psychology in my education classes constantly. I’m that annoying person who brings up psychological studies in class. Just the other day I used an experiment that I learned about in cognitive psychology as a possible writing prompt for English students. When I had to take the basic humanities class, I was able to astronomy knowledge to our reading of Galileo thanks to my stars and galaxies class. I’m able to bring real resources for LGBTQ+ students to my education classes because I took the Safe Zone class. There are so many other examples of my major required classes being enhanced by knowledge that I gained from gen ed or non-required classes.
In addition to enriching my required classes, these outside-major classes have helped me in general. For example, I actually understand scientific studies and statistics that I read about because of my applied statistics class and my various psychology classes. I’m better informed because I am able to comprehend statistics and studies. I am more knowledgeable in so many spaces due to the classes I have taken that introduce me to different areas of study. This helps me relate to people who may be less interested in English and education but more interested in something else I’ve been able to study. Not only am I better at talking to people with different interests, I’ve been able to make friends with people who have different interests because I meet them in my outside-major classes. Connecting with people who are in different majors is great for having a diverse friend group and for networking!
Sure, you could take easy A classes for your gen eds and get them out of the way. However, if your change your attitude about gen eds and choose to see them as an opportunity rather than an annoyance, you will reap so many benefits! Not every class you take will be great, but you will find yourself surprised by how many classes you end up loving that you never thought you would be interested in. This may even inspire you to take more classes in those fields just for the fun of it! Overall, classes outside your major make you a much more well-rounded person. They get your feet wet in fields of study that you never imagined you could be a part of. I hope this inspires you to branch out of your academic comfort zone and go into gen ed classes with an open mind!