I have heard many of my friends and peers complain about the requirement of thawing to take breadth courses to fulfill their graduation requirements. At first, I agreed with them as I believed college served the purpose of specializing in one’s field of interest. However, now that I am in my third year of undergraduate I have come to realize that all the breadth courses I took were not useless at all. In fact, if anything breadth courses helped me grow as a person and in knowledge, more so than many of my major-specific courses.
The great thing about breadth courses is that it is up to you to choose what classes you want to take. Want to take a class on beekeeping? Go for it. How about politics and underdeveloped nations? Also available for your consumption. In essence breadth courses are like playgrounds to experiment and experience different majors but also try out what you may have been interested in. For many students who may come in with a rough idea and loads of insecurity about their chosen major, breadth courses may solidify their interests or point them in a new direction. This was the case for me in that I love my major, but in my first quarter, I found that there are specifics in another field that I want to study beyond undergrad.
However, that being said, exploring the classes you want may be hard in your first few quarters. Many classes are in high demand. Even so, don’t discount breadth courses as the classes you may not be interested in may make the biggest impact. I remember before college I didn’t even know what creative writing was and taking a breadth course shone a light on a major I didn’t even know existed. Courses such as the politics of the underdeveloped world also gave me a new perspective I had never considered prior to college. In high school what we studied was uniformed and by-the-book, we often didn’t get a wide scope of all that there is to study or a view of the world outside of what we learned. Breadth courses are essential as they can be forms of exploration and a way to enlighten yourself on the realities beyond just this country.
So what about those who already know what they want to do? I still recommend you take breadth courses. Many of us are busy, absorbed in the subjects we are studying, which can often limit our knowledge about the world around us. When we think of social issues or even those who may be different from us many will approach said situations with ignorance. This is because we often are exposed to or have only known a homogenous community and therefore are ill-informed on others and the world around us. Breadth courses allow us a view into things we don’t understand and can help us grow as people. Learning more about others’ beliefs, cultures and histories can help us be more understanding and tolerant of others. Similarly, it can create a dialogue between people and create a space to grow beyond what you know.
Overall, I believe breadth courses are a necessity as they allow us to explore and learn about much more than just our interests. Obviously, there are still arguments about this as often tuition can be pricey and many attribute this to the need to take breadth courses. However, I believe that although this is true (hopefully one-day tuition won’t be such a problem) breadth courses are still important for our development as scholars and people.