As advisors, we often hear students say things like, “I’m all done with the classes for my major; what classes should I take next?”
If you find yourself in this situation, there are actually many different options. Some students look into research or teaching assistantships, internships, or honors projects. Other students consider picking up a minor or taking extra classes for their major.
One option not enough students seem to consider is simply taking courses that are personally interesting to them. It is too bad because college is a great opportunity to try out new things and learn about topics you wouldn’t normally get a chance to learn about. Plus, those classes might end up being some of the most influential experiences you have.
In that spirit, we asked some faculty to describe a class that took that wasn’t a requirement of their major, yet had a significant impact on their personal or professional life. Here’s what they had to say.
Dr. Wilson-Doenges: I loved the class “The American Novel” which I took as a Humanities Gen Ed requirement my sophomore year at Boston University. I never read so much in one semester in my life, but that class ignited a passion for reading for fun that I have carried with me ever since. One of the books we read in that class, Winesburg, Ohio, sparked my interest in suburbia that charted a course for my future research interests in environmental psychology. Great class, great teacher, great books!
Dr. Jill White: I took a Physics class – Physics for non-Science majors – that utterly changed how I see things. Even though it was supposed to be stripped of math (it wasn’t), and geared toward those of us who hadn’t taken all the hard science pre-reqs, it was still very challenging. But it was SO WORTH IT. The class gave me a view of our universe that I would never have had without it. After every single class, I would walk around in a kind of daze, thinking “Wow, this place we live in is amazing!” And it gave me the ability to talk to people at parties about everything from quantum mechanics to electricity. I could also read newspaper and magazine articles about new space and/or particle findings without them being too far over my head. The funny thing was how much I found that the stuff I was learning in Physics mapped on, or helped me understand what I was learning in the religion class I was also taking that semester. Call it the “semester that blew my mind”.
Dr. Kate Burns: I had many non-psychology classes in college that I enjoyed so it’s hard to narrow it down to one. One course that I still think about today is “Philosophy of Science”. The class really pushed me to think about what science was and how this definition has changed over time. The professor was great and I fell in love with Thomas Kuhn. I still have one of the books from this class in my office (it’s by Kuhn, of course).