Column - Course variety can be rewarding
Published: Friday, August 17, 2012
Updated: Friday, August 17, 2012 02:08
Shocking, isn’t it? Since grade school, guidance counselors, teachers and parents have closely observed their students and carefully, even systematically, led their sheep to their potential flocks.
Aptitude tests examined logical and emotional skill sets, thereby determining a range of career options for students.
I remember being asked my freshman year of high school what I wanted to do or be when I grew up.
If I had known then, perhaps I would not have changed my major after two years of college to not only to save my education but study what I want to study.
As freshmen, you are standing on the threshold of your house – your future. Your past experiences, family and high school friends are behind you now.
These are the outside influences that walked you to the door of your future. College is the hallway you stand in, and it leads to many rooms – your potential futures.
But how does one choose a room, especially if one already has plans to live there without further examination?
Excessive focus on one’s major or school work is detrimental to all freshmen and students alike. I am neither advocating going out and partying every night nor avoiding your homework.
I simply believe taking advantage of the opportunity to find one’s self and embrace a liberal arts education are keys to a successful freshman year, and college career overall.
It is fantastic to have some idea of what one wants to do with one’s life. I congratulate those who have figured it out.
But for those who have "made the decision," you may find yourself burnt out and overworked by the end of your freshman year. By the end of your sophomore year, you might question whether the major is right for you.
West Virginia University has the privilege to offer courses from beginning to advanced studies in a wide variety of disciplines, from elementary math and piano to advanced physics and how to make wine – so why not try it all?
GECs are required classes, possibly unrelated to one’s major, which must be completed prior to graduation. Typically, GECs seem to be one’s least important classes – until your life is changed by them.
By taking a wide variety of courses outside of one’s major, the overall focus on school work and career development is greatly improved.
Not only are GECs advantageous breaks from one’s intense studies, thus allowing the brain to think differently or potentially access the "other side," but a single class can change the course of one’s school work forever.
Having studied music education for two years, I found myself appreciating the profession of a music teacher, knowing this job was possibly not my best fit.
Knowing I wanted to stay in music, I released myself from the major restrictions imposed on me since my freshman year and discovered I wanted to learn about, teach and research the voice.
By taking an introduction to linguistics class, I was empowered and inspired to continue my course study in speech pathology and audiology.
I knew I loved music, and I wanted to continue studying it, but with outside focus in medical studies of the voice through the ears, nose and throat.
This combination, a bachelor’s degree in music and a minor in speech pathology and audiology, could lead me to further study subjects such as voice science, vocal pedagogy or speech pathology at a master’s degree level.
But I am not the only student who knew solely focusing on one’s major without an open mind would affect the course of their studies and health.
Judy Grahack, a former psychology major, found herself overwhelmed as a psychology student.
After taking two art history courses, Judy found inspiration in mental rehabilitation through art. Art therapy, much like music or physical therapy, aids in the rehabilitation of people who have experienced trauma.
Coursework outside of one’s major is an inspirational tool that can rekindle or re-inspire the mind to focus on one’s future.
So relax. You should not be overwhelmed with the required course work of your freshman year. Take the time to explore possible career options and have fun.
The possibility of being inspired by a GEC or outside course could cause someone to reevaluate their lives.
It takes an open mind and flexible schedule to evaluate the best next steps to one’s education.