When choosing courses for college, it can be easy to lose sight of the opportunities you have to really enrich your academic experience amongst the requirements for your major, minor or just what you feel you are “supposed to take”. Colleges offer a plethora of unique and sometimes seemingly off-the-wall courses for just that reason – to expand your mind and your experience.
I jumped at the opportunity to take some courses that had nothing to do with my major and that also covered subject matter with which I was unfamiliar. One course that comes to mind was my Harlem Renaissance class. I had never taken an art history or music course before, had only visited Harlem once and had never even heard of this important period in our country’s history. Not one week into the semester later, I could already tell how much the artists, musicians and struggles I learned about were influencing me.
Here are five reasons that will hopefully inspire you to add that funky course on next semester’s roster:
1. Classes are usually smaller. Smaller classes means more interaction, more time with the professor, opportunities to dig more deeply into a subject and a chance to make closer friends.
2. The professors are almost always passionate about what they teach. Not that chemistry, calculus and the like aren’t riveting topics! But certainly a professor who has carefully crafted a lesson plan around a specific subject will have a richer knowledge base from which to share and a more interesting approach to sharing it.
3. Learning is usually outside the box. I can’t tell you how many amazing opportunities I’ve had to sit amongst my classmates at my professor’s dinner table, focused on a class topic; to take field trips that made the subject matter in class come to life; or to work on interesting projects that pushed my creative limits further. Learning can fun, and these kinds of classes make that a reality.
4. It gives you a mental break from the rigors and monotony of your major, minor and basic courses – and you still get the same college credits for it! Your required classes are important, of course, but let’s be honest, sometimes they can get you into a mind-rut! Extracurricular courses can be just as useful in teaching you something important, whether it’s facts you never knew or thinking in a different way. Exercise that brain through something new and different!
5. It’s great preparation for the real world. If you can appreciate the benefits of learning new and different things or a new and different way of thinking while you are in college, then you are in great shape for life after school. You will never stop learning and growing, so practice expanding your horizons with an interesting ancillary course.
Whether you go straight into the job force or pursue a graduate degree, you are going to find that life is full of the very lessons and education that such seemingly “extra” courses teach, so get started today! Visit your academic advisor, talk with your friends, or speak with the professor to learn more about a specific class you are interested in that they are familiar with or have taken. It’s the first lesson you will learn in taking that class to always try something new.