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Why It Is Important to Take Classes Outside Your Major

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Rutgers chapter.

Every college student has had to take their fair share of elective classes that may seem completely unrelated to their major.  Rutgers is not unique in that it requires students of every major to take a preset number of courses belonging to specific categories, including writing and quantitative reasoning classes.

It may seem like a hassle to take classes that are seemingly irrelevant to your major field of study.  However, if you carefully research the classes and maintain an open mind, you will discover some of the hidden benefits of taking these classes!  


1. You may discover a newfound interest. 

Sometimes students take classes just to fill requirements, but are pleasantly surprised when they begin taking an interest in the topics that they are learning bout.  So it may seem that you’re registering for classes like “Living in the Microbial World” with the exclusive goal of fulfilling a Natural Science requirement.  But, much to your surprise, you may just find yourself intrigued by microbes and passionate about teaching all your friends about the dangers of pathogenic bacteria. (Yes, I was that microbe-obsessed friend last semester!) 

2. You will enjoy a break from your usual classes. 

Many students find that the classes within their majors can get a bit repetitive.  How many times will I learn about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?! As a Psychology and Human Resources double major, the answer to that question is, A LOT.  So filling your schedule in with classes like “Creative Writing” or “Public Speaking” will likely open your mind to new ideas, as well as challenge you to use different skillsets that may not used in your current coursework.

3. You will learn something valuable. 

This seems obvious, yet we all tend to complain about taking these unnecessary required classes, sometimes failing to realize that school isn’t just about earning a degree.  We are also here to learn something valuable! In my first semester at Rutgers, I registered in a Personal Finance class, originally intending to simply fulfill a Quantitative Reasoning requirement with a course many deemed as an  “Easy A.”  It wasn’t until midway through the semester that I realized the extent to which this class will help me in the future, as I learned the importance of many personal finance activities, including retirement planning and home-owning.  

4. You will meet new people.  

Those students who have officially settled into a major probably realized that a similar group of cohorts are often in many of their classes.  Additionally, these peers tend to share some similar interests—a not-so-surprising revelation considering they all take interest in a similar field of study.   While it is fun interacting with people who have common interests and passions, meeting new people with unique perspectives and goals is equally exciting.  Taking elective classes that are open to all majors will offer you the opportunity to meet new people, learn about others’ majors, and share your interests and chosen field of study. 

5. You will be more well-rounded.  This is the all-encompassing benefit to taking elective courses.  Even the engineering folks will find value in a “Creative Writing” course, while the math-phobic social science majors will quickly recognize that quantitative reasoning skills are an inevitable part of life.  Taking these seemingly nonsense electives doesn’t have to be a drag; if you ask others for their course recommendations and maintain an open mind, you will not only enjoy your time exploring coursework that is unique to your studies, but become a more marketable and well-rounded job candidate on your next interview!


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