Going into college, it’s easy to think that your grades don’t matter for the first couple of years until you really start to hone in on your major. A common misconception is that the general education classes and electives that you take during your freshman and sophomore year are ones that you can put on the back burner and not worry too much about. However, there are several reasons why this myth is not only untrue but can be harmful to your overall collegiate career.
The purpose of gen ed or general education classes is exactly what it sounds like. They exist to provide each student with a well-rounded education. Whether or not you are interested in the arts, literature, or science, many general education programs require you to take at least one class in each of these categories. If everyone only studied subjects that they were strongly interested in, they wouldn’t be properly educated or knowledgeable in important subject areas. Classes such as rhetoric, human biology and interpretation of literature all contribute to a wider, broader understanding of the way the world works and the development of professional skills.
For example, rhetoric aids in writing and speaking skills which are extremely important in any professional field. Human biology helps us understand our own bodies and how they function. Particularly, if you have to take a human biology lab, dissections are a great way to experience hands-on learning and know the importance of paying attention to detail. As for interpretation of literature, critical thinking skills and understanding complex concepts are central to succeeding in this class. Being able to effectively interpret and communicate ideas presented through text shows that you have the ability to think abstractly and creatively.
Electives are different from gen ed classes because you are not required to take them and they don’t count toward your major. While you may need to reach a certain number of elective hours, you can choose any class to fulfill this requirement so long as the course doesn’t require a pre-requisite. This may seem redundant or useless, especially to underclassmen who are eager to dive into studying their major. However, what you may not realize is that electives can change your whole collegiate path. One reason colleges require electives is to allow students to explore subject areas that they may not have previously considered. For example, a student who comes into college with the intention of pursuing a music degree may take sociology as an elective and enjoy it so much that they decide to change their major. Electives are especially helpful for those who come into college not knowing for sure what they are interested in or would like to do after graduation. It provides them the opportunity to experience a broad range of subjects and help them narrow their scope when deciding on a degree to pursue.
Aside from exploration and achieving a well-rounded education, the letter grades that you receive in your general education and elective courses will still effect your overall GPA. If you want to maintain a healthy, high grade point average, you can’t afford to slack off in your classes even if they aren’t directly related to your major. Regardless of whether you are interested in the subject or not, you have to do the work and try your best to show that you can learn new things and take responsibility for your education.
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