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During freshman orientation, an advisor that I was randomly assigned to told me what core classes I should take during my first semester. I remember trying to build the best schedule I could with the space I had left afterward, but I had no idea what the best classes to fill my time were. Now, I am almost halfway through my time here at Boston College, and I have a lot more experience with the courses BC offers. During my time here, I have found that time only moves faster as the years go on and the number of classes I can take (that I actually want to take) is quickly falling. With that in mind, I find myself wondering what class every BC student should take at some point during his or her time here.
With the multitude of courses available at BC, it’s difficult to pick just one that everyone could gain from. A course with necessary and practical life skills everyone should know once they enter the “real world,” like finance, makes sense. Classes that teach skills every career demands, like public speaking, also make a compelling case. Also tempting are classes that add a skill to your resumé—taking statistics means you can call yourself an effective problem solver. But you’ll only be an undergrad once, and the freedom you have to choose what you learn is right now. Don’t waste that freedom seeking classes that just make you think—most classes at BC do that anyways. If I had to pick one class that I believe everyone should sign up for, it is a class that will make you think differently.
It can be difficult to find time for classes you aren’t required to. Most BC students try to fulfill the core requirements off the bat, and with good reason. It is a massive, time-consuming feat. After completing the core classes, students who want to double major or minor often feel like there is no space left in their schedules for unnecessary courses. But if you only take required classes, you won’t experience the intellectual and personal growth that an undergraduate education can provide. When you explore other interests and confront novel information, you learn to think differently, either through adapting previous opinions or by finding a new way of processing old ones. In my opinion, you’ll never grow as much as you will during your time as an undergrad, so now is the time to learn about a subject simply because you want to.
One type of class that can make you think, and think differently, is literature and writing classes. There is a reason that even schools without a “core” usually have required freshman writing classes. Well-written people tend to be well-spoken people, and everyone is going to continue reading and writing after college—regardless of your field of work. No matter the job, first impressions are often on paper: cover letters, applications for graduate schools, or even a proposal on behalf of your company. When you realize the importance of being both clear and succinct, even writing an email can require some of the abilities you acquire in an English class.
English classes have broad benefits beyond developing writing skills. Because English classes cover such a wide variety of subjects, they offer the perfect opportunity to explore an interest that might not be as easily cultivated in another disciplines. English classes and other writing intensive courses, such as sociology and history, place authorities on a specific subject in dialogue with one another, which naturally transitions to analysis and debate. In an English class, you don’t just work on rote memorization. You gain knowledge from the opinions of others and develop the ability to use those opinions to shape your own.
Perhaps an English class isn't the perfect auxiliary course for you. The one class that everyone should take is different for every BC student. For me, it was an introductory sociology class. I spent time reading works by famous individuals whose names I had only memorized for history classes in high school. The best way to find that one eye-opening class for you is by picking up the course catalogue and flipping through it. If a class sounds interesting, new, or challenging, what is the harm of substituting that into your UIS registration? Maybe it will convince you to pick up another major or minor, or maybe it will simply open your eyes to a new perspective—and isn’t that why we are here in the first place?
Many college graduates look back and regret signing up for classes they thought they should take instead of classes they genuinely wanted to take. So when registration comes around, enroll in the class you want to for once—don’t worry, your core and major requirements will still be waiting for you next semester.