Required to make you a better person
Published: Monday, September 27, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, November 16, 2010 18:11
On every student's degree progress report can be found a list of required courses seemingly unrelated to his or her chosen field of study. Liberal Arts majors will find themselves taking math courses, while scientists and engineers are forced to take anthropology and writing classes. This system results in a bunch of students whining amongst themselves during passing periods, grumpily considering transfer to some magical college where they think these required classes don't exist.
The fact of the matter is that UCCS' approach, which is the same as most every college in the U.S., is meant to make students well-rounded. This philosophy on education is better known as the Athenian education system, and has been around since, well, the time we all think of when we hear "Athens." Back in the day, the popular idea in Athens was that boys must be taught to read and write, but also to wrestle and wield a spear, such that they could be productive citizens during war or peacetime.
This is opposite of the policies in Sparta, of course, where boys were expected to kill things at any given moment, impregnate women and have abs with which you could grate cheese.
In this modern age, the same principles apply to different types of universities. You could go somewhere like the School of Mines to learn nothing but math all the time, and you would be closer to the Spartan end of the scale of learning (excepting the impregnating part; let's be honest). Or, you could go to a school like UCCS and learn about English, math, humanities and maps and compasses. While it would be more fun to be an extra in a movie starring Gerard Butler, you're going to find more sustainable career opportunities (and friends) by following the Athenian approach to education.
So stop complaining. Seriously, just stop it. I know, math is hard and you'll never need to find the area of a circle ever again. But developing critical thinking skills while in college ensures that your job isn't eventually replaced by a two-line program in Java.
Math majors need to stop complaining about required liberal arts classes, too. Yes, you could be at home integrating some functions instead of writing a research paper on the benefits of glycerin soap for your weird-smelling humanities teacher. But being able to find the fourth root of infinity is of no use to anyone if you're not able to communicate said knowledge to the greater public. No, wheezing while using several multi-syllabic gibberish math-words in a tone generally reserved for use by Scottish lords does not count. Develop some social skills already.
My point is that going to a college like UCCS and obtaining a well-rounded education means something in today's world. You don't get that degree without, at some point, having to suck it up and learn something. If all the Communications majors crying about college algebra had their way, their BA would be even more meaningless than it's already bound to be. Just imagine if your potential future employer knew you had to take only the easiest classes in the easiest major from a bunch of instructors who couldn't care less. I doubt you'd get the job.
Whereas if you graduate from an institution known for challenging its students, for pushing them to try new and difficult things, potential future employers will give your resume more than a single glance. You might even get that invitation for a phone interview from Target that you've always wanted.