I once took a class at Gonzaga called Loneliness and Community. I did not take this class because I am terminally lonely, though we all have our moments, or because I was seeking community. I took this class because it was mandated by GU as part of a curriculum and designated as something you may all be aware of — a First Year Seminar.
Though the name was daunting and made me wonder if I was walking into a semester of group therapy, it ended up being one of the most interesting and stimulating classes I’ve ever taken.
It is because of this class and a handful of others that I believe university-authorized core classes are actually an integral part of a college diploma and should remain this way.
This is not me saying that everyone should and will enjoy every subject if they are forced to take it. I actually thoroughly disliked the majority of my core classes — biology and biology lab to name a few. I do, however, believe stimulating the parts of your brain that fall into disuse will make you a more diverse and critical thinker.
While some may argue that a structured core curriculum hinders the ability of an individual to explore the capacity of their intellect, it is actually the opposite.
There are many people who would never have known their interest in a certain subject if they hadn’t been forced to take it in their early college years. I, for example, considered myself to be a “convenience Catholic,” meaning I really only attended Mass on Christmas and Easter and thought about my beliefs about as many times.
However, after taking Feminist Christian Doctrine to fulfill one of my core religious studies credits, I was hooked. I am currently taking another course on Christianity in place of my ethics credit because I found the intellectual side of religion so interesting. I never would have realized my interest in this particular subject if I hadn’t been required to take a religious studies course.
That being said, the amount of core classes we are required to take is a bit overzealous. I am all for exploring my intellect, but I pretty much knew I hated philosophy after the first semester and requiring me to take 201 the following year almost made me resent it more. Follow that up with a third year of ethics and you’ve lost me completely.
I understand that students like to operate as free agents and, if you are anything like me, your undying independence has probably hindered you from taking advice in the past. Despite this, I urge you to appreciate a bit of direction and structure at a time in your life that is rather direction and structure-less. And if you are one of the few with an absolute plan laid out for your life, I applaud you and then say try something new. This may not be the most fulfilled you could be.
The most ironic part of my core classes experience is the Loneliness and Community class that ultimately changed my outlook was actually designated as a philosophy credit. So, even within my deep hatred of philosophy, there is always room to grow.