Editorial Notebook

Non-major classes improve life

If I had taken a writing class at some point in my life, I would have a good chance of knowing a witty or interesting way to start this notebook. However, I have not taken writing classes, and thus am not as skilled as I could be at coming up with intriguing introductions and captivating comments. I do plan on taking a writing class before I graduate though; I believe that it is a good idea to take classes outside of your major. There are many reasons taking classes outside your major is a good idea.

The most obvious reasons for taking courses in another discipline are if you are unsure of your dedication to your current major or are looking to add on another major. Taking a course in a discipline you are interested in, but still somewhat wary of switching to, can help you make up your mind and get a better feel for the subject. Intro classes are great for this purpose, but sitting in on some higher level classes can give you a feel for how the subject will look to you in a couple years if you do decide to switch or add the major.

Even if you are not interested in adding or switching majors, taking classes outside your discipline’s domain will expand your skillset and help you develop yourself as a well-rounded individual. Writing and communication classes are an excellent choice for any major. The importance of being able to communicate effectively can never be overstated. This skill is important to the engineer who must make presentations, and it is important to the business major who must create reports for his meetings. Not only will these classes help you, but many are interesting and engaging as well. Some classes will challenge your creative abilities, while others will force you to create coherent and logic rhetoric. Besides communication courses, I would also recommend introductory economic classes, because a solid understanding of how the economy works can never be harmful. In the same vein, finance and marketing classes can be both informative and useful. Taking introductory courses in any of RPI’s disciplines, such as economics, computer science, chemistry, and engineering can only aid in the development of critical thinking abilities and knowledge. The new knowledge and analytical techniques you gain from these courses may help you approach problems in new ways.

Taking courses outside of your comfort zone and/or major is a great way to expand your intellectual borders and help satisfy your curiosity. If you’re going to add the class as a supplement to your regular course load, make sure that it is not going to be a difficult class; there’s no reason to overly distract or stress yourself from your core classes. Some of the best, most interesting classes I have taken have been far outside the subject matter of my major. A class called Heroes of the Hudson Valley may not be related to Computer Science, yet I believe it was this class that cemented my fascination with the limits of the human mind, an area of focus within my computer science research. Take advantage of all RPI has to offer. While still a student, finding new interests is something about which no one ever really complains.