Why Taking Classes Outside of Your Major Can be Beneficial

College is a confusing, tiring and stress-inducing time in our lives.

So, when we finally decide on things pertaining to our futures, like what our major will be or if we want to go to graduate school, it’s hard to be open-minded to other options for our future.

While you might have found a major you are super interested and in love with, that doesn’t mean that you should become closed off to other classes and opportunities.

College is all about trying new things and finding out who you are and what interests you.

When I took my first Spanish class at UF to improve my grammar, I never thought I would love the subject so much.

It would expand my knowledge in such a specific field.

Taking classes that vary in subject matter has allowed me to become more well-rounded and knowledgeable.

Here at UF, we are all pretty familiar with a class called “What is the Good Life.”

This class is infamous among first-year students, but the idea behind it is actually smart.

The class can be beneficial to students.

By having a class that aims to open up the minds of students to different perspectives, it allows students to look at the world through a variety of lenses and to have the tools to connect with a wide range of people. 

Advice from an academic advisor

I interviewed Kevin Bird, a departmental level advisor in the Computer and Information Sciences and Engineering Department at UF, about why it could be valuable for students to take classes or pick up a minor that may not directly connect to their major or field of interest.

When asked if Bird recommended that students take classes or minors outside of their immediate field of interest, he said it can make a more well-rounded student. 

“What I would definitely recommend, especially for STEM majors, is that a minor in a humanities field can substantively add to your curriculum and your professional development,” said Bird. “For instance, we receive feedback from companies that they are looking for computer science students who have the type of robust interpersonal and intercultural skills that a minor in a humanities field has an agenda of instilling.” 

No field can teach somebody every skill needed to be successful in the real professional world.

As Bird mentioned, STEM majors can add to their technical knowledge by picking up classes that allow them to gain strong leadership and communication skills. 

When I came to college, I was so excited to take classes on topics that interested me and just enjoy learning new things.

In high school, it was difficult to feel engaged in most of my classes because they were mostly teaching me how to take a test at the end of the year.

When we are taught in that way, we aren’t absorbing that information, we’re just memorizing test-taking skills. And while college still has classes like these that you just have to pass an exam and move on, there are a variety of interesting classes that can truly inspire learning and growth.

Bird continued on why students should be open-minded to taking different classes.

He says that when a student expands their classes, they are going beyond the memorization skills they learned in their previous schooling.  

“The study of humanities can be like a deep dive into the great thinkers, artists, authors, poets, etc. of the past and present,” Bird said. 

Bird compared the humanities helping a student progress similar to the progress of the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. 

“We need students to really think about how their education can help to address some of society’s most pressing needs,” Bird said, “These are the questions that the study of the Humanities is uniquely equipped to address.” 

The humanities allow for students to broaden and expand their minds. However, this concept can extend to other major classes. 

My major is sociology and I’m in the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences so when I found out I had to take more physical and biological science classes than I initially thought, I was nervous and not excited.

Science and math have never been my “thing” and I assumed that as a liberal arts major I was safe.

However, in the science classes I had to take, I learned about water pollution, rock formations present in my home state and the impacts humans have on the environment and ways to counteract the destruction we’ve created.

These are important and beneficial things for me to know about and to be educated in. 

Though we may not have thought about it when complaining about having to take “What Is The Good Life”  or that geology lab to fulfill our requirements, knowing a bit about a variety of different fields can be useful to allow us to have different lenses in which to view the world.

As much as we may be content and in love with our majors and know what we want to do, by being open-minded to experiences as much as we can will only help in making us more successful.

Some students may not have the economic ability or space in their schedule to take classes not related to their major, but if you can take a class that just genuinely seems interesting, I say take it.

It’s an opportunity to learn something you never thought you would.