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Why GEs are Necessary for STEM students

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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCD chapter.

General education classes are taken outside of major requirements; as STEM students, we are expected to complete a certain number of arts and humanities credits. When entering college, I felt frustrated to devote half my academics to unrelated courses, but after taking a handful of GEs, I not only found the break from STEM relieving, but I found that my character developed in a beautiful, nuanced way. Here is a list of GEs that played a fundamental role in refining my life perspectives.

1. Human Sexuality

During my adolescent days, schools had not modified their sex ed to extend beyond abstinence. Therefore, I traversed high school completely oblivious to human sexuality. However, once blooming into a young woman, I knew I needed to comprehensively learn something so fundamental to myself. Right from entering college, I intended to take this course. Consent, birth control options, bodily autonomy, and more, were heavily discussed by my professor. By the time we wrote our final autobiographical paper, I could apply this education to validate, support, and encourage my views on my body and sexuality. For any young man or woman, it’s imperative to learn the depths of your sexual well-being, but that cannot occur without a strong educational foundation. Many schools fail to be transparent about sex, which is why I highly recommend all college students to take this course. 

2. Global Health

It’s easy to immerse ourselves in our own lives and be blind to our privileges. Learning about health disparities among rural, global communities made me grateful for my life, and planted a desire to bridge these gaps in the future. This course sparked me to advocate for underserved communities, and one day, work for non-profits that can provide basic health needs. My nutrition lab and student-run clinic, two extracurriculars I proudly pour my energy towards, were all endeavors I pursued because of this course. Global health shaped the direction of my career—ironically, a class outside of my major. I encourage people to enjoy their GEs, because you never know: they could help you discover your life purpose.

3. Creative Writing

People believe that life’s secrets come from brute facts. The beauty of art, including creative writing, is it can take abstract concepts and incorporate them into riveting, digestible stories. I enjoyed writing, but more than that, I heavily valued the insightful discussions with my peers. Everyone has their perspectives on art, and art is said to bring out the truths hidden in our day-to-day lives. Discussing stories with peers introduces you to diverse opinions, and can refine your initial thoughts. Many people hate English classes for their difficult reading assignments, but I feel the greatest value of such classes is discussing themes, lessons, and symbolism that can shape our perceptions of life.

4. Ethics in Animal Use

I had very rigid, apathetic views towards animals until taking this course, where we learned about the poor housing methods of farm animals, how purebred dogs physiologically suffer from inbreeding, and even how insects have similar pain receptors to human neuroanatomy. After this course, I learned how to implement moral frameworks in my actions, and to be comfortable with the discomfort of my past choices. I’ve changed many ways in how I perceive other living creatures, and this has extended into my habits. Now I avoid products with gelatin or lard, and when I see insects, I safely guide them outdoors.

There is one common theme with all of these GEs: they changed my beliefs, perspectives, and actions. This can rarely be achieved in STEM classes, because everything is based on sheer facts. What makes us human is our ability to absorb vast, diverse amounts of knowledge. GEs are not just there for a GPA boost: they give us soft skills that make us well-rounded. Now more than ever, I look at my GEs as a blessing in the American college system.

Gayathri is a third-year Biotechnology major and director of the UCD Her Campus Digital Media team. She loves to write, work out, sing, and sleep (college students need more of that nowadays). When not indulging in her boba addiction, she likes to wind down by watching hilarious Youtube vids with a hot cup of tea.