New perspectives: why choose your gen eds with care
“I’m here for a neuroscience major. Why do I need to take a history class?”
I approached my perspective classes as a burden instead of an opportunity. I just thought of them as items on a checklist I needed to get through to graduate. I told myself to just pick classes that sounded interesting and get through them to the best of my ability.
The perspective classes, or gen-ed classes, at Augustana may not fit into your field of study or even your interests, but they’re important to your education.
The fact that they’re called perspective classes instead of “general education requirements” like at other schools shows that they aren’t classes to gloss over. They’re more than a requirement to graduate, they’re an opportunity to gain a new outlook on different topics and a chance to learn new things.
I dreaded fulfilling the history perspective. History was one of my least favorite subjects in high school, and the thought of passing one at the college level stressed me out. But, I needed the class to fill out my perspectives, so I took it. Suffice to say, Modern Latin American History took me by surprise.
Turns out, I really enjoyed the class.
I learned so much about Latin America, about the U.S., and about how different parts of the world can interact in times of crisis. I never would’ve learned about any of that in my major classes. At the end of the course I felt more informed about the world, which is something I think Augustana wants for all of its students.
I had a similar experience when I took a creative writing class. It gave me the chance to express myself in writing, and I learned so much about the writing process. As an avid reader, it was almost like a backstage pass to see how some of my favorite authors might go about writing their pieces.
My perspective classes took me out of my comfort zone and taught me new things that I never would’ve taken the time to really think about otherwise. I encourage you to approach perspective classes with an eagerness to learn, you never know what you might discover about yourself or the world.
Perspective classes may seem daunting or boring at first, but they’re a great way to ease into a liberal arts education.
Keep in mind that whether or not you enjoy a perspective class or find it interesting doesn’t solely depend on the class and the professor. It depends on your hard work as well.
Take advantage of your perspective classes. Choose classes that sound interesting, not easy, and put effort into the classes that you take by doing the work, participating in discussions, and talking to your professors.
It may take a lot of effort, but it will be worth it in the end. You’ll learn a lot more than you expected to, and you’ll find that you’ll be looking forward to your perspective classes instead of dreading them.
Madison Williams '20 majored in multimedia journalism and mass communication at Augustana College. She was also a sports editor/reporter for the Augustana Observer student newspaper. She currently is pursuing a master's in sports media at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.