After having been in school for a while, I can tell you this: there are certain classes I’ve taken that have changed my understanding of a wide variety of things.
I think this is why the core curriculum honestly exists. It fills in the gaps of your knowledge about specific things and helps you link together seemingly disparate phenomena or ideas. That is the basis of creativity, of groundbreaking research, inventions, etc.!
I never, ever understood why people would say things in school like, “Why are we learning this? It’s not going to help us in the future.” (Sometimes, though, I can honestly understand their point of views).
That depends on what you want to get out of your future.
Some people are after the money, and that’s fine if that’s your thing. But I know what I’m after. And I know that a lot of you in the SAS Honors Program are after the same sort of thing: to be either a master or well-regarded in your field.
So to open up your mind, I suggest a few classes that I’ve taken here at Rutgers that honestly changed my outlook on things. Sometimes, you end up finding a career in a class you thought was completely unrelated. Sometimes, it makes you a healthier person. Sometimes, it’s just plain fun.
Oh, I can already hear the groans! I had to take this back when I was still a pre-med student, but I really don’t regret it. I made a lot of great friends in this class, but besides that, I learned about the concepts that govern our universe and learned about some concepts that don’t apply in the reality we exist in. Does it not make sense to understand the basics of the world we live in? I honestly think it does. You might think you’ll never need physics, but physics can be applied to everything from chemistry to fashion (density of a fabric may be responsible for how a fabric hangs on someone’s frame, etc). Learn about how the world you operate in works.
Both of these are an understanding of human nature and the bureaucracy or structure of that human nature works. This is just another way to understand the world we live in. This time, you’re learning how people operate here and, if you extrapolate, you can learn how to operate to get ahead.
3. An Ethics Course
I was speaking to someone the other day–Tyler Farnsworth, our Assistant Director of Honors Media–about the importance of ethics. He told me how we all think we know the difference between right and wrong. I’m not going to lie; I thought I knew it pretty well. Then he said that that the ethical conundrums he was presented with were very difficult to answer. The right thing was very difficult or the line was very blurred. An ethics class will help you think about that difference between right and wrong, and where you stand morally. This is useful to know going into your career into the future.
4. A History Course
The usefulness of a history course has almost no bounds. This is where you get to learn what leaders and people in the past did when they were up against problems that were difficult to solve. It’s also a practical understanding of how people react to specific things. A history course provides examples for the principles you learn in sociology and psychology. It also gives you ideas for how to solve your own problems in the future. Life will never be a smooth boat ride; you’re going to hit rough waters at some point. Wouldn’t it be useful to know how to react to the water that’s about to come up and swallow your boat whole? I certainly think so!
5. Exercise Physiology and Exercise Physiology Lab
You know, we all learn that we should eat healthily and exercise. But we’re not always taught how to do it well. Our high school classes may have taught us a little, but health, as a class, is unfortunately never taken too seriously. Taking a class specifically about health is ideal.
I learned a lot about how the body uses energy and what systems of the body interact with what. This I mostly learned in class. I also learned when to eat what kinds of foods if I wanted to gain muscle or become toned or honestly just be healthy.
What was most useful for me was the lab. I learned how to perform tests to find out how fit I was and learned how I could improve my body that way.
These two classes made me start exercising a lot more. And I realized that I really enjoy working out.
6. Last but not least: An Interdisciplinary Honors Seminar
I honestly love the idea of an interdisciplinary class, but I didn’t realize how much I would love it until I took Politics of Art and Poetry with Dean Nazario and Paul Blaney this past semester. I’ve never had so much fun in my entire life and learned so much about an intersection between two disparate fields. I also made a lot of great friends.
We did group projects, skits, readings aloud, and went on many field trips. The class had a very discussion-heavy focus. That’s where ideas are born: out of discussions.
It’s classes like all of these that help you make all those connections. It’s classes like these that make you think. There’s a lot of things you can do on this planet. There’s absolutely no way that everything has been invented or discovered. What if you were the person that discovered the next big thing? And what if it was a class like one of these that got you there?
I guess we’ll all find out on the Internet when you write a book, be a guest on a talk show, or just create something better than the Internet. Who knows?