The importance of being well-rounded

Bradley Schnitzer

Most people come to college to study a certain field with the hopes of getting a job. To them, general education requirements are just pesky obstacles in the way to a useful, financially secure degree. It is unfortunate that the general education program has come to be viewed by many students and even some faculty as such.

While you may not want to learn about the history of Europe (interesting as it is) or that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell, there are many benefits to having this broad base of knowledge. These include not only the knowledge itself, but all the skills that come with general education.

A well-rounded education makes a well-rounded citizen. Sure, you might not need to know how Napoleon conquered Europe for your office job, but perhaps it comes up in casual conversation. Being able to make educated remarks about some topic like that is very satisfying, and you may impress a few people along the way.

General knowledge could also come in handy when helping your future children with their homework. Instead of the typical “Why don’t you Google it?” response, you can take pride in knowing the answer right away.

The knowledge you gain from taking general education classes might come in handy sometimes, but the skills you learn are extremely valuable as well.

Everyone is always wondering why they have to learn a million ways to solve for “x” when they’re a biology major. Beside the fact that some basic algebra has practical applications for daily life and a lot of careers, that isn’t the only purpose of math classes. Mathematics is a form of logic, and studying the processes of math can help strengthen logical skills.

This is easier to see in English classes. It’s not the worst thing ever if you don’t have Shakespeare plays memorized. Studying English helps with reading, writing and comprehension skills. It would be pretty impressive if you had all of “Romeo and Juliet” memorized, though.

The skills get even broader than that. In a theatre class, acting skills are taught. The skill of acting can be stretched to include how you present yourself. As bad as it might sound, being good at acting can carry across to when you are applying for jobs. Being skilled at acting friendly and professional is obviously useful in this aspect of life.

How about psychology? I’m not talking about being able to recognize or diagnose psychological disorders or explain why people are the way they are, but even just reading people is a skill. Personally, psychology has made me a bit better at reading people. It has come in handy.

Of course, it is important to do well in your major-related classes and perhaps secure a stable job. However, being knowledgeable, at least on a basic level, in all areas can be useful and fulfilling.