When you get to college, the vast array of courses available to you can be incredibly exciting. If you’re like many students whose high schools had limited course offerings, you might be tempted to take a bunch of classes in college in a subject you love that your high school didn’t offer.
This makes sense. You’ve been stuck taking the same math, science, and history classes the last 12 years – maybe now you really want to spend your tuition money studying what you actually enjoy, like architecture or astronomy. Or maybe you really liked history but disliked math and science, so only plan to take social studies courses.
In both of those cases, I’d urge you to reconsider. While I know from personal experience that it’s really easy to just take subjects you know you already like, it’s really important to branch out and be balanced. I think there are 2 primary reasons why taking a broad mix of classes is good for your academic and personal development.
The first reason is that taking different subjects forces you to think in different ways and develop different skills. Each discipline pushes you in different directions intellectually: math will hone your numerical analysis; history will hone your critical thinking; philosophy will hone your argument analysis; science will hone your command of data; architecture will hone your spatial reasoning… I think you get the point by now.
What I’m really trying to say, is that working with a variety of subjects broadens your horizons as a thinker. The more you’re challenged to develop a mental capacity outside your comfort zone, the more able you’ll be to think on your feet and synthesize diverse information successfully.
The second reason is that branching out allows you to find other things that interest you aside from what you already thought you liked. The academic world is filled with fascinating subjects. You won’t discover most of them if you stick to what you know. We’re teenage college students (or soon-to-be college students) – our desires are fickle and change all the time. To really maximize our intellectual enjoyment, it’s crucial to explore the unknown.
Of course, the hardest part of this will be actually finding courses to branch out with. How are you supposed to know what you will like among the things you don’t think you’ll like? It seems like a tough predicament, but the solutions are pretty simple. One good way is to search for courses in a department you’ve never even heard of, like, say, Egyptology. Then just pick the class that sounds the most random and go for it. Think of all the cocktail party trivia you will learn! The other way is to look around for great professors. The best professors will get you to fall in love with subjects you never thought you enjoyed, making any class you choose a good one.
College is a time where you’ll be exposed to the most new information you’ll have ever seen in your life. Take full advantage of that opportunity by learning about as many different subjects as you can. Trust me – your future self will thank you for making yourself smarter and more interested.
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By Aidan Calvelli.