“When am I ever going to use this?!”
It’s the question lingering in everyone’s mind at nearly every stage of the education system. We’ve all had those moments where we’ve doubted the use of learning the metric system in elementary school or being forced to take arts or physical education credits in order to graduate high school.
When you zero in on a single plan, like just heading to the next grade, getting your diploma, or graduating college in one specific major, anything else that doesn’t relate to it directly may seem unimportant.
Still, while getting your degree, all those “useless” classes known as your generals can end up being an important part of your overall education.
Take, for example, a class like philosophy. It may seem difficult and farfetched to become a philosophy major unless you plan on becoming a professor in the subject. However, the basics of logic and deduction that you will learn in any philosophy class are most likely discussed and used in many other classes you could be taking.
Psychology is another perfect example because even if you don’t plan on going anywhere near a psychology degree, the principles of the human mind as well as popular psychological theories will come up in many literary, communication and possibly even medically specified classes you may have. It can also be applied in your everyday life, though it may not be a good idea to go out and just psychoanalyze people.
The benefits of classes like these may be like killing several birds with one stone.
If you’ve already learned the material in a previous class, that’s less studying you will have to achieve in other classes that you might be just as eager to breeze through in order to get your degree or even just get through some generals.
Another advantage in taking classes that might seem parallel to your major is the importance of being diverse in the professional world, no matter what career you choose. The more of a jack-of-trades you are, the more companies will believe you can tackle projects that will be out of your comfort zone, which can possibly lead you to promotions in your work life.
Being diverse in your abilities will benefit you in landing a job in the first place. Certain majors can become crowded and over-competitive because everyone is trying to graduate in a degree that they’ve heard they can get work in. If you and 20 other individuals in the same area got the same degree with the same mindset, what’s going to happen when there are only two or three job opportunities available?
Humanities classes to non-majors may seem like a waste of time, but the arts teach you lessons that science and numbers cannot. You are taught to create and think abstractly. You can also be taught how to present yourself and what you have created to the world and how to deal with the objection and critique that may come as a result. If two accounting majors are applying for the same desk job and one knows nothing except how to crunch numbers while the other has past experiences involving that creativity, communication and confidence, who is going to seem like a more well-rounded asset to the company?
However, arts majors should have a practical mindset and make sure they attend marketing and technology-oriented classes so they can learn to build a business out of their talents instead of just waiting for some lucky break. A problem in the current job market may be that many people are overqualified for the amount of jobs available, but you need to be able to have a grasp on anything so you can seize whatever opportunity that may come your way.
An even more simple reason to take classes that you may be interested in, but that may not directly benefit you, is to just have a reason to enjoy your college experience. If you are taking 18 credits of honors classes in one semester that are all mandatory for your future, there is going to be a lot of pressure for you to succeed in them all. Having one or two stress-free classes can be healthy for your study habits and help your GPA when it comes down to finals. You are also attending college in order to educate yourself, and becoming involved in subjects you never thought twice about may open more doors for you once you stop and take the time to try them out.